First Solar expands perovskite R&D, acquires Sweden’s Evolar
First Solar strengthened its position 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 acquisition will accelerate First Solar’s pursuit of high efficiency tandem devices (PV + perovskite), by integrating Evolar’s know-how with First Solar’s existing research and development (R&D) streams and intellectual property.
“With this acquisition, along with our new innovation center 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 decarbonization 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.”
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. 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.
Under the agreement, 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.
“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,” Widmar added.
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 center in Santa Clara, California, and the development teams in Perrysburg, Ohio.
“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 commercialize 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 center 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 center 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.
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