First Solar strengthens global technology position in PV with acquisition of Evolar


First Solar (Tempe, Arizona) has further strengthened its global leadership in thin film photovoltaics by acquiring Evolar AB, a European leader in perovskite technology. The purchase price is approximately $38 million paid at closing and up to an additional $42 million to be paid subject to certain technical milestones being achieved in the future. The impact to 2023 operating expenses is expected to be approximately $2-4 million, 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 know-how with First Solar’s existing research and development (R&D) streams, intellectual property portfolio, and expertise in developing and commercially scaling thin film PV.

“With this acquisition, along with our new innovation centre in the United States and longstanding commitment to R&D, we are investing not just in First Solar’s future, but the future of solar energy,” said Mark Widmar, chief executive officer, First Solar. “We anticipate that high efficiency tandem PV modules will define the future, speeding up decarbonisation by allowing us to convert sunlight into clean electricity more efficiently. 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 that continues our commitment to ultra-low carbon, responsibly produced solar.”

Under the agreement, the terms of which were not disclosed, Evolar’s laboratory in Uppsala, Sweden, 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, approximately 30 of Evolar’s R&D staff will transition to First Solar, working in close collaboration with the company’s team of about 60 scientists at its advanced research technology centre in Santa Clara, California, and the development teams in Perrysburg, Ohio.

Widmar added: “In addition to significantly expanding our capacity for advanced research, we are pleased to extend our R&D footprint to Europe. By connecting our advanced research lab in California with Europe and building the Western Hemisphere’s largest PV R&D innovation centre in Ohio, we are effectively establishing and leading a uniquely transatlantic effort to develop and commercialise the next generation of photovoltaics.”

Founded in 2019 by veterans of the copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) industry, Evolar focused on developing solutions, including manufacturing equipment, for commercialising a tandem solar technology utilising perovskite thin films. Made up of some of Europe’s foremost experts in thin film PV, Evolar has produced several thin film efficiency records, including the current 23.6 percent world record for CIGS research solar cells. Its team works closely with leading European research institutions, including Uppsala University.

“As we approach over 20 gigawatts of global nameplate capacity by 2025, First Solar’s track record in scaling thin film photovoltaics speaks for itself,” said Markus Gloeckler, chief technology officer, First Solar. “The future of PV clearly lies in thin film semiconductors, and few other solar technology companies are as well placed to develop and commercialise future solar technologies as First Solar is. We are thrilled about the opportunity that lies ahead and look forward to welcoming the Evolar team to First Solar.”

In October 2022, First Solar announced that it would construct a new R&D innovation centre in Perrysburg, Ohio. The facility, representing an investment of up to $370 million, is believed to be the first of its scale in the Western Hemisphere and is expected to accelerate the development and production of advanced thin film PV. Scheduled to be completed in 2024, the new R&D centre will be located near First Solar’s existing Perrysburg manufacturing facility, covering an area of approximately 1.3 million square feet. It will feature a high-tech pilot manufacturing line allowing for the production of thin film and tandem PV modules.

Caption: First Solar has further strengthened its global leadership in thin film photovoltaics by acquiring Evolar AB, a European leader in perovskite technology (photo: Business Wire)

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