12 May 2023
First Solar acquires Swedish perovskite PV firm Evolar
Cadmium telluride (CdTe) thin-film photovoltaic (PV) module maker First Solar Inc of Tempe, AZ, USA has acquired perovskite technology firm Evolar AB of Uppsala, Sweden. The purchase price is about $38m paid at closing and up to an additional $42m to be paid subject to certain technical milestones being achieved in the future. The impact to 2023 operating expenses is expected to be $2-4m, excluding the impact of purchase price accounting.
The acquisition is expected to accelerate the development of next-generation PV technology, including high-efficiency tandem devices, by integrating Evolar’s expertise with First Solar’s existing R&D streams, intellectual property portfolio, and expertise in developing and commercially scaling thin-film PV.
“Along with our new innovation center in the United States and long-standing commitment to R&D, we are investing not just in First Solar’s future but the future of solar energy,” says CEO Mark Widmar. “We anticipate that high-efficiency tandem PV modules will define the future, speeding up decarbonization by allowing us to convert sunlight into clean electricity more efficiently,” he adds. “This acquisition supplements our existing R&D streams with expertise in thin-film semiconductors that complement CadTel. We expect that it will accelerate our efforts to develop tandem technology.”
Under the agreement, Evolar’s laboratory in Uppsala will continue to conduct research activity, marking the first time that First Solar will have an R&D facility in Europe. Upon closing of the transaction, about 30 of Evolar’s R&D staff will transition to First Solar, working with the firm’s team of about 60 scientists at its research technology center in Santa Clara, California, and the development teams in Perrysburg, Ohio.
“By connecting our advanced research lab in California with Europe and building the Western Hemisphere’s largest PV R&D innovation center in Ohio, we are effectively establishing and leading a uniquely transatlantic effort to develop and commercialize the next generation of photovoltaics,” says Widmar.
Founded in 2019 by veterans of the copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) industry, Evolar focused on developing solutions, including manufacturing equipment, for commercializing a tandem solar technology utilizing perovskite thin films. Evolar has achieved several thin-film efficiency records, including the existing 23.6% record for CIGS research solar cells. Its team works closely with leading European research institutions, including Uppsala University.
“As we approach over 20GW of global nameplate capacity by 2025, First Solar’s track record in scaling thin-film photovoltaics speaks for itself,” says First Solar’s chief technology officer Markus Gloeckler. “The future of PV clearly lies in thin-film semiconductors, and few other solar technology companies are as well placed to develop and commercialize future solar technologies as First Solar is,” he claims.
In October 2022, First Solar announced that it would construct a new R&D innovation center in Perrysburg, Ohio. Representing an investment of up to $370m, the facility is believed to be the first of its scale in the Western Hemisphere and is expected to accelerate the development and production of thin-film PV. Scheduled to be completed in 2024, the new R&D center will be located near First Solar’s existing Perrysburg manufacturing facility, covering an area of about 1.3 million square feet. It will feature a pilot manufacturing line allowing for the production of thin-film and tandem PV modules.