As solar companies attempt to expand their reach, they’re forging new partnerships to increase access. Most recently, First Solar formed a joint venture with Germany’s Belectric. Under the agreement, the two companies will pursue selected photovoltaic projects in Europe, North Africa, and smaller, utility-scale projects in the U.S.
"We are happy to celebrate this important new milestone in our long-term partnership with First Solar," said Belectric CEO Bernhard Beck. "By joining forces to create a world-class project delivery platform, we hope to strengthen both companies' relationships with key stakeholders - including project developers and investors - at a time when prices of electricity from solar power plants can already compete with the prices for conventionally generated electricity in a growing number of regions."
"With its industry-leading capabilities, this joint venture will ensure that our individual project obligations are delivered to the highest standards," added First Solar CEO Jim Hughes. "First Solar and Belectric share a long history of excellence and we are confident about the future of this initiative, which is based on a firm foundation of mutual trust, expertise and a track record that is unrivaled in the solar energy industry."
Projects in the U.S. that will be developed under the agreement will be less than 20 megawatts and all projects in the joint venture pipeline can be independently acquired or developed by either of the two companies. All projects developed under the joint venture will use First Solar’s thin-film modules, as well as other First Solar components, like the First Solar Tracker. Belectric will provide its advanced balance of systems services and a range of service capabilities. Depending on project location and geography, either company will provide engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) services for the projects. The agreement also is non-exclusive, which means that both companies can also pursue projects outside of the agreement.
In the U.S., the agreement will also include those projects under 20 megawatts in Belectric’s pipeline of 280 MWs of PV projects. When combined, the pipeline of projects for both companies comes to over 8 gigawatts worldwide. Belectric has a 5 gigawatt pipeline and First Solar's is over 3 gigawatts, with 7 gigawatts of installed PV worldwide.
This new partnership builds on a longstanding relationship between the two companies. For instance, they recently completed the 128 megawatt Templin solar farm in Germany, which the companies said was the largest power plant in Europe to use First Solar modules. In addition, roughly 80 percent of the 1.4 gigawatts of solar power installed by Belectric use First Solar modules.