The World's #1 Renewable Energy Network for News, Information, and Companies.

First Solar Acquires TetraSun; Announces Plans To Target Rooftop Solar Market

First Solar Acquires TetraSun; Announces Plans To Target Rooftop Solar Market

First Solar Inc., the solar manufacturer that gets almost two-thirds of sales from building and selling utility-scale power plants, agreed to buy TetraSun, a startup developing photovoltaic technology for rooftops.

TetraSun’s solar panels are more efficient than First Solar’s thin-film products and better suited for small rooftop systems, Chief Executive Officer Jim Hughes said at an analyst meeting yesterday. He plans to initially market TetraSun products in Japan, which last year introduced an incentive program to encourage supplies of solar energy.

The deal fills a gap for First Solar, which doesn’t market its panels for rooftop systems. It also gives the Tempe, Arizona-based company access to Japan, which is expected to become the second-largest solar market this year. The purchase is a departure for First Solar, the biggest producer of thin- film panels, because TetraSun’s technology uses silicon.

“Japan is the highest value, space-constrained market so that’s why we’re starting there,” Hughes said in an interview after the event.

TetraSun’s proprietary design can convert more than 21 percent of the energy in sunlight into electricity, according to a statement. It uses silicon, the material used by most solar manufacturers including the Chinese producers that dominate the market. TetraSun’s panels have copper electrodes instead of silver, which reduces costs, the company said in July. Terms weren’t disclosed.

Rooftop Market

“With TetraSun, they get this new entrance to the rooftop market they’d pretty much abandoned,” said Ben Kallo, an analyst at Robert W. Baird & Co. in San Francisco who attended the meeting and has a neutral rating on the shares. “The efficiency they’re talking about puts them in a very competitive position to play in the markets SunPower’s in.”

SunPower Corp., the largest U.S. maker of silicon-based solar panels, began offering solar leases for residential rooftop systems in 2011 and said in August the business may generate as much as 25 percent of sales by mid-2013.

“It’s a complementary technology set that opens to us the entire market,” Hughes said during a webcast of the analyst meeting. First Solar’s panels use cadmium-telluride sandwiched between sheets of glass.

First Solar is buying TetraSun from JX Nippon Oil & Energy Corp. and other investors including TetraSun’s management. All 14 employees will remain with the San Jose, California-based company.

Japanese Market

First Solar expects to open a factory that will produce about 25 megawatts to 50 megawatts of TetraSun panels next year for the Japanese market. Hughes said he hasn’t decided yet where to build the plant.

Japan’s introduction in July of an incentive program offering above-market rates for energy from renewable sources means the country will probably become the largest solar market in the world after China this year, Bloomberg New Energy Finance said in a research note earlier this month.

Commercial and utility-scale projects will boost solar installations to a range of 6.1 gigawatts to 9.4 gigawatts in 2013, exceeding an earlier forecast of 3.2 gigawatts to 4 gigawatts, the London-based researcher said.

“The 10kW-1000kW commercial segment, which includes commercial rooftops, has great capacity for growth, and is a major part of our forecast this year,” Tokyo-based BNEF solar analyst Travis Woodward said in an e-mail response to questions.

Forecast

First Solar expects to sell 1.6 gigawatts to 1.8 gigawatts of thin-film panels this year, generating revenue of $3.8 billion to $4 billion, according to a forecast issued yesterday.

About 64 percent of First Solar’s $1.08 billion in sales in the fourth quarter came from its systems business, which builds and sells large solar farms, and the rest from selling panels. The forecast reassured analysts concerned the company isn’t selling new projects fast enough to replace the ones it’s completing, said Kallo.

The company said today it acquired a 60-megawatt solar project that’s expected to begin construction next year in Central California. Terms weren’t disclosed.

First Solar shares fell 5.7 percent to $37.11 at 10:01 a.m. in New York. They surged a record 46 percent yesterday after releasing its forecast.

Asian solar companies rose today, led by Solargiga Energy Holdings Ltd. and GCL-Poly Energy Holdings Ltd.

Solargiga rose 8.5 percent to HK$0.385 in Hong Kong and GCL-Poly, the biggest maker of polysilicon used in solar panels, gained 9.5 percent. Motech Industries Inc., Taiwan’s biggest solar-cell producer, climbed 3.6 percent.

First Solar expects revenue of about $12 billion over the next three years, Chief Financial Officer Mark Widmar said at the analyst meeting. About a third of that forecast is due to existing contracts and the rest will come from anticipated sales, he said.

Copyright 2013 Bloomberg.

Lead image: Japanese Rooftops via Shutterstock.

RELATED ARTICLES

Gavel

Three Chinese Solar Panel Groups Lose Exemption From EU Tariffs

Jonathan Stearns, Bloomberg

The European Union applied tariffs on three groups of Chinese solar-panel makers that have been exempted from the levies, potentially reviving tensions in the EU’s biggest trade case of its kind.

Stock graph

Green Bonds Sprout as Wall Street Embraces Renewable Energy Debt

Cordell Eddings, Bloomberg Bonds backing clean energy and other sustainable initiatives are booming. Investors are snapping up green bonds at the fastest pace on record, as big banks like Morgan Stanley and Bank of America Corp. pile in with new iss...
Loss and profit binders

Yingli May Return to Profitability in Second Half, CFO Says

Justin Doom, Bloomberg

Yingli Green Energy Holding Co., a Chinese solar manufacturer that hasn’t reported income in almost four years, may return to profitability in the second half, the chief financial officer said.

Students and solar powered cars with energy storage

Rain or Shine, Students Keep Their Solar Race Cars Going with Energy Storage

Wayne Hicks, NREL Teegan and Kira Cordova love the original Star Trek TV series. That much is obvious. The eighth-grade twins from Ken Caryl Middle School in Littleton are wearing the uniform tunics from the 1960s show — Teegan's in red and...

CURRENT MAGAZINE ISSUE

Volume 18, Issue 3
1505REW_C11

STAY CONNECTED

To register for our free
e-Newsletters, subscribe today:

FEATURED PARTNERS



EVENTS

PV-301: Advanced PV Design & Installation

This highly desirable and advanced course is intended for the profession...

PV-401: Advanced Field Training

Real world on the job solar installation, training, and experience is th...

PV-201: Introduction to PV Design & Installation

PV 201 Introduction to PV Design & Installation is simply the best i...

COMPANY BLOGS

Community Solar Solutions Appeal to Eco-Conscious Millennials

Tech savvy and convenience oriented, the millennial generation is the mo...

Building Rapport

How do you build rapport with your prospect? This is a question that I a...

Up to Bat – Why More Solar Companies Are Thinking Seriously About A...

Given the growth of the solar industry in the U.S., with 2014 year-...

SOCIAL ACTIVITY

Tweet the Editors! @megcichon @jennrunyon

NEWSLETTERS

Renewable Energy: Subscribe Now

Solar Energy: Subscribe Now

Wind Energy: Subscribe Now

Geothermal Energy: Subscribe Now

Bioenergy: Subscribe Now  

 

FEATURED PARTNERS