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GE and First Solar join forces to improve thin film cell technology

GE and First Solar have formed a technology partnership to improve PV thin-film solar cells and modules.

First Solar has acquired GE's global cadmium telluride (CdTe) solar intellectual property portfolio, and GE has received 1.75 million shares of First Solarc ommon stock in return. GE has agreed to retain the shares for at least three years.

The joining of the two companies' technologies and First Solar's manufacturing capabilities are intended 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 grow its presence in the solar market by purchasing and branding First Solar's modules for future global GE deployments. It will also invest in inverters, controls, balance of plant and ownership of utility scale systems.

GE and First Solar have also 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 improve the electrical balance of a plant. They companies hope that this collaboration will 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 CEO. "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 improve CdTe technology and achieve an increasingly competitive cost position. GE has decided to discontinue the build-out of its Aurora, Colorado, solar manufacturing facility.

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Photovoltaics (PV)  •  Solar electricity