In the early 2010s, First Solar, a leading photovoltaic (PV) solar manufacturer, faced a series of challenges: expanding production by subsidized Chinese PV manufacturers; declining purchase subsidies in important European markets; and, declining prices for silicon, the key input raw material for its competitors’ panels. These challenges threatened First Solar’s competitive advantage and overall profitability, and it needed to decide how to respond.
To determine where a firm making solar panels has competitive advantage by looking at its costs and customers’ willingness to pay; understand whether such an advantage can be maintained in the face of substantial market shifts; and, illustrate the complexity of the energy industry, particularly PV solar power, including the barriers to entry, market segments, government subsidies, and international competition.
Appropriate for the Following Course(s)
strategy, sustainability, technology*
*An educator (non-watermarked) copy of this case is available only to individuals who hold teaching positions at academic institutions and want to use the case in a course.
THIS CASE HAS A TEACHING NOTE.