Solargis assessment supports optimized asset value for First Solar

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Bankable resource assessment study


10-project portfolio (development and operations)


  • Reduced risk and enhanced value of overall portfolio
  • Accurate data prevents financial loss from project undervaluation

About First Solar

First Solar is a leading global provider of comprehensive photovoltaic (PV) solar solutions, which use its advanced module and system technology. The company’s integrated power plant solutions deliver an economically attractive alternative to fossil-fuel electricity generation today. From raw material sourcing through end-of-life module recycling, First Solar’s renewable energy solutions protect and enhance the environment.

In Japan, the company has a longstanding track record in developing and operating mega solar plants. First Solar’s in-house teams identify project opportunities, arrange project finance, oversee project construction, and typically manage operations of assets throughout their 20+ year lifetime.

Challenge: Publicly available datasets fall short

Developers such as First Solar need to demonstrate to investors that their projects will remain profitable in the long-term. Among other factors, this requires a robust resource assessment study, making use of highly accurate, validated solar irradiation data.

In Japan, however, publicly available solar irradiation datasets may not be accurate enough for bankability assessments that can be used to support project financing decisions. Local datasets may not take recent years of data into account and/or do not reflect the irradiance at the project location, which is an important consideration in Japan, given the highly variable topography.

As an experienced developer, First Solar recognised the need for accurate datasets to ensure that energy yield assessments could be counted on.

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One of the 10 projects for which Solargis delivered a solar resource assessment study. Long-term estimates were based on Solargis model that was site-adapted using on-site measurements of solar resource.

Solution: A higher standard of resource data

First Solar has so far engaged Solargis to provide bankable solar resource assessment studies for a number of projects in its pipeline in Japan. This pipeline included two operational sites, three projects which are currently under construction, and five further sites due to be commissioned.

Solargis solar resource data is independently validated at hundreds of sites globally, but when First Solar verified this for themselves at its project sites using on-site weather station measurements, it strengthened the case for using Solargis data in the energy yield assessments of the technical advisors and banks.

At all 10 projects, Solargis irradiation data closely matched on-site measurements, giving First Solar and other project stakeholders full confidence in the accuracy of Solargis estimates. These instances demonstrated that, even in situations where Solargis GHI estimates do not match other sources, it is the most reliable to use to support decision making.

“At all 10 projects, Solargis irradiation data closely matched on-site measurements, giving First Solar and other project stakeholders full confidence in the accuracy of Solargis estimates.” Fadi Ferzli, Senior Manager, Technical Sales and Engineering at First Solar

Confidence in a post-FiT market

Accurate solar data will become even more vital in Japan in the coming years, since new projects are now being developed under a reverse-auction scheme, instead of the Feed-in-Tariff. Developers like First Solar can use trusted data from Solargis to bid with greater confidence.

Using Solargis data to finance and operate projects ultimately helps reduces resource risk, decreasing the cost of solar power and helping Japan support its rollout of clean energy.