First Solar announced the sale of a collection of Canadian solar projects totaling 50 megawatts to an investment partnership led by GE on Monday.
The deal is the first of what is expected to be many since the companies announced earlier this month that they would put an end to a recent rivalry, bury the hatchet and partner up.
First Solar has long been the world’s leading manufacturer of thin film solar, a position GE threatened when it got into the business and began manufacturing its own thin film solar. Shortly after First Solar announced a record-breaking solar conversion efficiency of 18.7 percent this year, GE topped it with 19.6 percent.
The two companies were gearing up to go head to head in a fight for market share when GE announced it was going to get out of the solar manufacturing business, dumping plans to build a 400-megawatt solar manufacturing facility in Colorado.
GE sold its technology and manufacturing infrastructure to First Solar, not for cash, but for a sizeable chunk of the company – 1.75 million shares.
But the marriage is stronger than that. First Solar owns GE’s technology now and GE owns a chunk of First Solar’s business. But GE has also agreed to brand First Solar thin film technology as its own and sell it under the GE brand, which could increase market reach for the already growing First Solar, something is now advantageous to both companies.
"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," Anne McEntee, president and CEO of GE's renewable energy business said in a statement earlier this month.
The partnership has big potential and both stocks responded positively to the news.
The 50-megawatt sale of First Solar plants in Canada to GE could be the beginning of a new wave of similar sales, analysts predict.
All of the power plants are located in Ontario and were built under 20-year power purchase agreements with Ontario Pwer Authority.