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First Solar Yields Big First Quarter Loss In Advance Of Yieldco

Joining soon-to-be-partner SunPower, First Solar announced its Q1’2015 earnings report this week, reporting a significant loss over previous quarters, due partly to the impending yieldco partnership with SunPower.

first-solar-sets-solar-cell-recordFirst Solar reported a net loss of $62,292 million in the first quarter of 2015, compared to a profit of $112,007 million a year earlier, and monstrous $191,959 million in the fourth quarter of 2014.

Subsequently, shares fell 3.66% over Thursday in the wake of the announcement, following a slow decline over the days leading up to their quarterly earnings, due most likely to expectations of First Solar’s contributions to their pending yieldco with SunPower.

“As anticipated, the first quarter was a transitional period as we executed on our plans to form 8point3 Energy Partners,” said Jim Hughes, CEO of First Solar, referring to the yieldco they are forming with SunPower. “We continue to enhance the overall strength of our business with our lead line now running at 16.3% efficiency and our announced strategic alliance with Caterpillar.”

In an attempt to allay concerns over a poor first quarter performance, First Solar accompanied its earnings report with the announcement of their partnership with Caterpillar, the American machine manufacturer — however, Caterpillar isn’t just about machines, having “been making sustainable progress possible and driving positive change on every continent” through a variety of services, including financial products and insurance.

First Solar announced the “strategic alliance” which intends to “develop an integrated photovoltaic (PV) solar solution for microgrid applications.” Specifically, First Solar will design and manufacturer a “pre-engineered turnkey package” for use with microgrid applications in remote locations, such as remote communities or mining projects. Caterpillar’s role will be to sell the Caterpillar-branded solar panels through its worldwide Cat dealer network, as well as a range of First Solar balance of system (BoS) components.

10015023_10151944678705764_1265329590_oCaterpillar’s Cat dealer network already sells a range of generators and energy storage applications, making this new partnership a logical next step.

“We are excited to announce this alliance, underpinned by First Solar’s 10 gigawatts of global experience in solar energy, and coupled with Caterpillar’s knowledge of generator sets and distributed power, and the strength of our unmatched dealer network,” said Steve Niehaus, Caterpillar Vice President with responsibility for the Electric Power Division. “By working with First Solar, we will optimize the efficiency and integration of solar power with our offerings.”

“This strategic alliance provides yet more evidence of a global energy transition, where solar energy’s reliability and cost competitiveness with traditional fuels effectively allows it to complement conventional generation,” said Marc van Gerven, First Solar’s Vice President for Global Marketing. “It is also evidence of the role that solar can play in enabling the local generation and distribution of energy to address specific needs.

“By entering into this alliance with Caterpillar, with its extensive experience and reach, we’re establishing an important new precedent for the commercialization and scaling of microgrid-based distributed generation solutions.”

Caterpillar will aim to begin marketing this new microgrid solution in the Asia Pacific, Africa, and Latin America regions, sometime in the second half of 2015.

Image Credit: First Solar and Cat respectively

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