Published in: 2011 - A Review of Cleantech Equity Deals, January 2012
The thin film solar sector was rocked by the high profile collapse of Solyndra during 2011. The year also saw consolidation in the thin film space, with deals reported including the acquisition of Würth Solar’s thin film production by Manz in Germany, which involved production capacity being slashed. However, if some of the venture capital investment in thin film technologies is any guide, it would be a mistake to write off this sector just yet. The failings in the Solyndra technology were a particular case, exacerbated by the fact that they coincided with plummeting prices for solar panels. The thin film market is expected to grow rapidly, underpinned by continuing developments in cadmium telluride (CdTe) and copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) technologies. This expectation is endorsed by the interest of giants such as GE and Intel. GE is is building upon its previous acquisition in the sector of CdTe thin film solar technology company PrimeStar, announcing in 2011 that it would be investing in a new factory. Also during the year, Intel invested in German company Sulfurcell, which is developing more efficient CIGS thin film cells. In terms of equity deals, the one which perhaps attracted most news coverage in the thin film sector was a project transaction: the sale of the 550MW Topaz thin film solar project by First Solar to Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc.