Partnership accelerates thin-film solar technology development---- GE takes equity interest in First Solar---- Existing scale and manufacturing capabilities of First Solar, combined with both companies'---- complementary technologies, will enable increased efficiency, cost competitiveness---- Inverter, balance of plant commercial partnership to improve solar grid integration and connection
SCHENECTADY, N.Y. & TEMPE, Ariz.--Today, GE (NYSE: GE) and First Solar (Nasdaq: FSLR) 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, setting a course for significant advancement of photovoltaic (PV) thin-film solar technology. GE received 1.75 million shares of First Solar common stock as part of this transaction. GE has agreed to retain the shares for at least three years.
The combination of the two companies' complementary technologies and First Solar's existing manufacturing capabilities are expected to accelerate the development of cadmium telluride (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 First Solar's 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," said Jim Hughes, First Solar's Chief Executive Officer. "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."
"To lead in today's solar industry, you must have the most competitive technology at the most competitive cost position," said Anne McEntee, president and CEO of GE's renewable energy business. "We're excited to partner with First Solar to accelerate innovation and bring our complementary technology and R&D to market faster through its manufacturing capabilities."
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 Aurora, Colorado, solar manufacturing facility.
The transaction has closed. King & Spalding LLP and Arnold & Porter LLP represented GE on the transaction, and Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP represented First Solar.
About GE Power & Water
GE Power & Water provides customers with a broad array of power generation, energy delivery and water process technologies to solve their challenges locally. Power & Water works in all areas of the energy industry including renewable resources such as wind and solar; biogas and alternative fuels; and coal, oil, natural gas and nuclear energy. The business also develops advanced technologies to help solve the world's most complex challenges related to water availability and quality. Power & Water's six business units include Distributed Power, Nuclear Energy, Power Generation Products, Power Generation Services, Renewable Energy and Water & Process Technologies. Headquartered in Schenectady, N.Y., Power & Water is GE's largest industrial business.
About First Solar
First Solar is a leading global provider of comprehensive photovoltaic (PV) solar systems 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 systems protect and enhance the environment. For more information about First Solar, please visit www.firstsolar.com.