Comparing Revenues And Key Business Metrics For First Solar And SunPower

by Trefis Team
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First Solar (NASDAQ: FSLR) and SunPower (NASDAQ: SPWR) are two of the leading U.S. solar players, targeting the commercial, residential, and utility-scale markets. Globally, solar energy installations have seen steady growth over the last few years, but the same does not reflect on the revenues of First Solar and SunPower.

In this dashboard, First Solar vs SunPower: How Have Revenues For Each Changed Over Recent Years?, we analyze how the businesses of SunPower and First Solar have evolved over the last 5 years (i.e. between 2013 and 2018).


A] How have total revenues for First Solar and SunPower trended over the years?

  • SunPower’s Revenues have remained flat from 2013-2016, largely due to low installations growth.
  • SunPower hasn’t been able to keep up well with the increased competition in this sector, and their revenues in 2017 and 2018 were largely hampered by the shutting down of their large scale projects department.
  • First Solar saw a growth in revenue 2013-2015, due to higher solar installations.
  • However, First Solar saw a drop in Revenue from the second half of 2016, but this is due to price cutting to keep up with competition.
  • First Solar’s Revenue further dropped in 2018, as they scaled back on their flagship Series 4 modules, while focusing on increasing production capacity for the Series 6 Modules.


  • Both companies haven’t seen any significant revenue growth, instead revenues have suffered over the past couple of years.
  • FirstSolar saw a drop of 18.8% in 2016 revenue even with an increase in shipments (from 2.52GW to 3.1GW), as they had to cut prices due to increased competition.
  • Technological improvements also had a major hand to play in the price drop, and this has clearly hurt SunPower revenue in 2017 and 2018, as they have been unable to increase their solar shipments (with about 1.35GW shipped in 2017 and 2018 each) to keep up with the global demand growth.


B] How has capacity installed per year trended for First Solar and SunPower?

  • Between 2013 and 2018, SunPower’s compounded growth in shipments is barely 5.5%, which is a clear indication of them not being able to keep up with growing competition.
  • FirstSolar in the same period has seen a compounded growth of 10.7%, while their annual growth between 2013 and 2016 itself is almost 24%.
  • This can be attributed to FirstSolar themselves scaling back on shipments over late 2017 and 2018, before the launch of their new, upgraded Series 6 solar modules.

C] How does Average Selling Price (in dollars/Watt) compare for the two companies?

  • Blended ASPs are calculated as the total revenues from both solar panels and systems sales, divided by the capacity of panels shipped.
  • Both companies have seen a gradual decline in Blended ASPs on account of technological improvements, increasing competition, and higher supply in the solar market. First Solar has also been seeing a higher mix of panel-only sales.
  • First Solar has seen a compound decline of about 16% in ASPs, annually, while SunPower’s ASPs have declined around 12% annually in the same period.

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