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7 August 2013

First Solar and GE announce technology and commercial partnership to speed CdTe PV module development

First Solar Inc of Tempe, AZ, USA, which makes thin-film photovoltaic modules based on cadmium telluride (CdTe) as well as providing engineering, procurement & construction (EPC) services, and GE (General Electric) have announced a technology partnership to advance thin-film solar cells and modules. First Solar has acquired GE’s global cadmium telluride (CdTe) solar intellectual property portfolio. As part of the transaction, GE received 1.75 million shares of First Solar common stock, which GE has agreed to retain for at least three years.

In April 2011, GE acquired PrimeStar Solar Inc of Arvada, CO, USA, which was founded in Golden, CO in 2006 to develop CdTe PV modules using technology from NREL (which is based in Golden). After acquiring a minority stake in September 2007, GE’s power generation division GE Energy of Atlanta, GA, USA took a majority stake in PrimeStar in 2008.

The combination of the two firms’ complementary technologies and First Solar’s existing manufacturing capabilities are expected to accelerate the development of CdTe solar module performance and improve efficiency at manufacturing scale. In addition, GE Global Research and First Solar R&D will collaborate on future technology development to further advance CdTe solar technology.

GE, which has 34GW of renewable energy installed globally, will enhance its presence in solar through access to purchasing and branding First Solar’s modules for future global GE deployments, in addition to its investment in inverters, controls, balance of plant and ownership of utility scale systems.

Additionally, GE and First Solar have formed a commercial relationship around solar inverter technology. First Solar will continue to purchase inverters from GE Energy Management for use in its global solar deployments to optimize electrical balance of plant. By combining complementary technologies, the collaboration is expected to lead to an improvement in solar grid integration, more competitive cost structures and a roadmap for combined electrical equipment.

“We are creating an exciting synergy with this deal,” believes First Solar’s CEO Jim Hughes. “The addition of GE’s PV thin-film technology and R&D resources will advance our technology roadmap, while realizing cost reduction in our manufacturing process,” he adds.

First Solar’s existing manufacturing sites will be used to further advance CdTe technology and achieve an increasingly competitive cost position. GE has decided to discontinue the build-out of its solar manufacturing facility in Aurora, Colorado.

See related items:

GE reports record 12.8%-efficient thin-film solar panel; plans 400MW US manufacturing plant

GE takes majority stake in PrimeStar Solar

Tags: First Solar Thin-film photovoltaic CdTe General Electric



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