First Solar, Inc. is an American photovoltaic (PV) manufacturer of rigid thin film modules, or solar panels, and a provider of utility-scale PV power plants and supporting services that include finance, construction, maintenance and end-of-life panel recycling. First Solar uses cadmium telluride (CdTe) as a semiconductor to produce CdTe-panels, that are able to compete with conventional crystalline silicon technology. In 2009, First Solar became the first solar panel manufacturing company to lower its manufacturing cost to $1 per watt and produced CdTe-panels with an efficiency of about 14 percent at a reported cost of 59 cents per watt in 2013.
The company was founded in 1990 by inventor Harold McMaster as Solar Cells, Inc. and the Florida Corporation in 1993 with JD Polk. In 1999 it was purchased by True North Partners, LLC, who rebranded it as First Solar, Inc. The company went public in 2006, trading on the NASDAQ. Its current chief executive is Mark Widmar, who succeeded the previous CEO James Hughes July 1, 2016. First Solar is based in Tempe, Arizona.
As of 2010, First Solar was considered the second-largest maker of PV modules worldwide and ranked sixth in Fast Company’s list of the world’s 50 most innovative companies.
In 2011, it ranked first on Forbes’s list of America’s 25 fastest-growing technology companies. It is listed on the Photovoltaik Global 30 Index since the beginning of this stock index in 2009. The company was also listed as No. 1 in Solar Power World magazine’s 2012 and 2013 rankings of solar contractors.