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28 December 2023

First Solar to sell up to $700m in 2023 IRA Advanced Manufacturing Production tax credits

On 22 December, cadmium telluride (CdTe) thin-film photovoltaic (PV) module maker First Solar Inc of Tempe, AZ, USA entered into two separate Tax Credit Transfer Agreements (TCTAs) to sell $500m and up to $200m, respectively, of 2023 Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) Advanced Manufacturing Production tax credits to Fiserv Inc, subject to satisfaction of certain conditions. Fiserv will pay $0.96 per $1 of tax credits to First Solar during first-half 2024, inclusive of fees and commissions paid by First Solar to the placement agent. Citigroup Global Markets Inc is the placement agent for First Solar on the transaction, which is believed to be the first significant credit transfer of its kind in the solar manufacturing industry. The agreements were signed just eight days after issuance of notice of proposed rulemaking by the US Department of Treasury and Internal Revenue Service to implement the Section 45X credits. “This is the IRA delivering on its intent, which is to incentivize high-value domestic manufacturing by providing manufacturers with the liquidity they need to reinvest in growth and innovation,” comments First Solar’s CEO Mark Widmar. “This agreement establishes an important precedent for the solar industry, confirming the marketability and value of Advanced Manufacturing Production tax credits,” he adds. “The liquidity generated as a result of this transaction is expected to accelerate the timing of enhancing our cash position in the US through the monetization of the Section 45X credits, further strengthening our balance sheet and allowing us to continue investing in key aspects of growth, such as research and development,” says First Solar’s chief financial officer Alex Bradley. “As it relates to the 2023 financial year, we expect a pre- and post-tax impact of up to $28m, resulting in a reduction of our diluted earnings of up to $0.26 per share for the year.” The tax credits result from the sale of photovoltaic solar modules produced in 2023 by First Solar’s operational manufacturing footprint in the USA, including its third Ohio factory, which was commissioned earlier this year. The firm’s fully vertically integrated solar manufacturing facilities produce thin-film wafers, cells and modules in a single integrated process that sees a sheet of glass transformed into a fully functional solar panel in about 4 hours. As a result of its vertical integration, First Solar is eligible for Advanced Manufacturing Production tax credits allowed for the production of PV wafers, cells and modules under Section 45X of the IRA. The solar technology and manufacturing company expects to invest over $2bn in new manufacturing facilities in Alabama and Louisiana, while also expanding its existing Ohio footprint, and expects to have 14GW of fully vertically integrated US solar manufacturing capacity by 2026. Additionally, First Solar is investing up to $370m in a dedicated R&D innovation center in Perrysburg, Ohio, due to be completed in 2024. See related items:

First Solar breaks ground on $1.1bn 3.5GW Louisiana factory

First Solar selects Alabama for fourth US manufacturing facility

First Solar investing $270m in R&D innovation center in Perrysburg, Ohio

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