By Gregg Gallager, Arnold Jee, David Lembo, Colleen Manley, Eric Moldabayev and Paola Torres
First Solar (FS) was originally founded as Solar Cells in 1984 by inventor and visionary Harold McMaster. McMaster with the help of Jim Nolan made the switch from amorphous silicon to Cadmium telluride (CdTe). This switch in thin film technology allowed Solar Cells to manufacture moderately efficient (7%) and low-cost thin film cells on a large scale.
In 1999, Solar Cells was purchased by True North Partners, LLC (an investment company of the Walton Family) and the name was then changed to First Solar. In 2006, FS became a publically traded company and released its IPO on the NASDAQ to become the first “pure play” renewable company listed on the S&P 500. Since its public offering, FS has never looked back as it ranked 10th in the Fortunes Fastest Growing Companies and sixth as the world’s most innovative companies in 2010. Today FS has remained true to its innovative spirit by being an industry leader in the manufacturing of photovoltaic, thin film solar modules worldwide. As the leader of the solar energy industry, FS has dominated their competition as a result of their innovation in productivity, cost reduction measures, and implementation of environmentally friendly solutions.