First Solar signed a definitive agreement to acquire TetraSun from JX Nippon Oil & Energy Corporation and other investors, including TetraSun management. Terms of the transaction, which is expected to close in the second quarter of 2013, were not disclosed. First Solar and JX Nippon Oil & Energy also have entered into discussions on an agreement to distribute the technology in Japan.
According to First Solar, TetraSun's core technology is a proprietary cell architecture which breaks the historical tie between high-efficiency and high-cost: "Compared to other high-efficiency crystalline silicon cells, TetraSun's advanced cell design is simpler and optimised for manufacturing, requiring fewer process steps with wider tolerances. The design enables high-volume production with higher yields using readily available equipment".
The technology uses large-format (156 mm) n-type wafers and reportedly eliminates the need for expensive silver and transparent conductive oxide (TCO). The technology also benefits from a low temperature coefficient of power, which produces superior energy yields in hot climates compared to typical silicon PV modules.
First Solar says it tentatively plans to begin commercial-scale manufacturing of the new technology in the second half of 2014.
"This breakthrough technology will unlock the half of the PV market which favors high-efficiency solutions, which has been unserved by First Solar to date," said Jim Hughes, CEO of First Solar. "This new capability to meet the needs of customers with distributed generation applications, coupled with our leading CadTel offering which remains the benchmark for utility-scale systems, gives us a unique end-to-end suite of solutions to serve the full spectrum of commercial applications."