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Solar Energy Case Study Example

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Marketing Sun Power

Case Summary

            The case describes the operation of a U.S.-based company that participates in the energy industry. The specialization of the company is in designing, manufacturing, and distribution of solar panels. The corporate headquarters of the company are in Temple, Arizona. The company has gained popularity among customers in the renewable energy industry due to its offering of razor- thin cadmium solar cells and panels. Another competitive advantage of the firm’s product is that is not dependent on silicon as a raw material. The firm’s and other industry participants’ performance is contingent on how quickly renewable energy firms can reduce their prices sufficiently to compete with fossil fuel energy.

Key Marketing Issues

  • Price – the price of solar energy is higher than traditional fossil fuel energy. By the year 2014 the cost structure of First Solar should decrease from $1 per watt to $0.50 per watt.
  • Competition – First Solar can use its competitive advantages such as a lack of dependence on silicon as a raw material to outperform its competitors.
  • Technology – First Solar participates in an industry in which technology allows the firm to provide a service that has been historically dominated by fossil fuel energy. The company must attract new customers by focusing on the advantages solar panels technology provide to the environment.
  • Oligopoly – The solar panel industry is an oligopoly. In an oligopoly marketplace there are few participants. The company should focus on obtaining the highest market share possible.
  • Environmental Scanning – Allows marketers the ability to collect information about forces in the marketing environment (Pride, Ferrell). First Solar can use environmental scanning to determine the best way to attract new customers.

Solar Energy Case Study Example

Personal Case Analysis

            This case study was very interesting to me due to the fact that it showcased an industry that should grow a lot in the coming decades. The renewable energy industry in the United States in 2010 produced 8,064,060 Btu (Plunkett Research). Because its technology can be mass produced at a relatively constant price due to the fact that variations in the price of silicon do not affect the production of First Solar products, the company featured in the scenario, First Solar, has the potential to further penetrate this industry in the United States. “Thanks to considerable advancements in engineering and design, thin-film solar, concentrated solar, and wave power, to mention a few, are all making tremendous progress” (Plunkett Research).

Case Questions

  1. Which marketing environment forces are likely to have the greatest impact on First Solar?

Natural and technological environments are the two environmental forces that will have the greatest impact on the company. Humanity is depleting our planet’s natural resources. Within 30-40 years, the world will run out of petroleum for commercial use, based on current consumption rates. As crude oil reserves become depleted, the cost of fossil fuels will skyrocket. Because the sun is an infinite raw material supply that users of the technology can access for free, solar energy is poised to grow at exponential rates in the near future.

  1. What types of organizations are most likely to exert the strongest competitive forces on First Solar?

There are several types of businesses that threaten First Solar. The firm’s main competitors are companies in its industry segment that manufacture solar-based panels that use silicon. Nuclear, hydroelectric, and wind technologies are also competitors. All renewable energy companies compete directly with fossil fuel companies.

  1. How did technology affect First Solar’s responses to the changes in the marketing environment? How can it continue to maintain its technological edge in its industry?

First Solar has wisely invested millions of dollars in research and development, allowing the company to produce cutting-edge solar cells and panels. Because of the superior design of the company’s product, it was able to mass-produce its panels on a large scale. The China project, which is expected to be completed in 2019, will have a 21-square-mile infrastructure


Companies must adapt to stay ahead of the competition in the ever-changing world of the twenty-first century. Humans have always taken advantage of the sun’s energy, but in the twenty-first century, society demands that this natural resource be used to its full potential (Energyquest). Solar energy creates electricity that can be used to power a household. First Solar has a product that is in high demand whose green attributes make it attractive for customers. The system can be marketed to people anywhere on the planet since electricity is a basic necessity.

Work Cited Page
  • Energyquest.gov. “Chapter 15: Solar Energy.” 18 January 2012. < http://www.energyquest.ca.gov/story/chapter15.html>
  • Plunkett Research. 5 December 2011. “Energy Industry Introduction.” 18 January 2012. <Plunkett Research database>
  • Plunkett Research. 2011. “Global Energy Overview 2009-2010.” 18 January 2012. <Plunkett Research database.>
  • Pride, W. and O.C. Ferrell. Marketing. South-Western: U.S. 2012.
  • World-nuclear.org. December 2011. “Energy Subsidies and External Costs.” 18 January 2012. <http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf68.html>

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