* First Solar makes move into U.S. residential market
* Will invest $25 million in installer SolarCity
* First Solar shares rise more than 8 percent
(Adds details, comments from SolarCity, share price)
NEW YORK First Solar (FSLR.O), maker of
thin-film solar modules, said on Wednesday it had made its
first entry into the U.S. residential market with a deal to
supply 100 megawatts of modules to installer SolarCity.
First Solar, which produces the lowest cost solar cells in
the industry, will also make a $25 million equity investment in
SolarCity and receive a minority stake in the privately held
company that installs the clean power systems in California,
Arizona and Oregon.
Tempe, Arizona-based First Solar has focused on larger
solar installations rather than the residential markets where
installation costs tend to be higher. Germany, with its
generous subsidies, has been its largest market.
First Solar shares rose 8.2 percent to $123.44 on the
Nasdaq in early trading.
SolarCity said the equity investment was part of $30
million round of financing to fund its expansion. The company
offers financing to homeowners and small commercial customers
that allows them to avoid high initial costs of installing the
"We are the largest residential installer in the U.S.,"
SolarCity Chief Executive Lyndon Rive told Reuters. "We have
grown on average 200 to 300 percent every year."
SolarCity said its installed costs for the photovoltaic
solar systems, which turn sunlight into electricity, are
between 14 cents and 25 cents per kilowatt hour, including
The company has installed solar modules made by BP Solar
(BP.L), Evergreen Solar ESLR.O and Kyocera (6971.T).
The United States recently extended by eight years the tax
credits that help bring down the cost of the renewable energy
systems and removed a cap on the subsidies for homeowners.
(Reporting by Matt Daily, editing by Dave Zimmerman)