First Solar, Inc. (NASDAQ: FSLR) announced that it has entered into an agreement to acquire skytron-energy, a subsidiary of AEG Power Solutions, which provides utility-scale photovoltaic (PV) power plant management systems, Operations and Maintenance (O&M) services, data monitoring technology, and equipment to solar power plants throughout Europe. Currently, skytron has installed monitoring and control systems in more than 600 plants across Europe with a total peak capacity of 5 gigawatts (GWp), more than doubling First Solar's global portfolio of monitored assets. The acquisition is subject to consent by the German merger control authorities ("Bundeskartellamt"). Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
The acquisition supports First Solar's initiative to provide full, end-to-end energy solutions that vertically integrate solar services and solutions. It broadens First Solar's portfolio of energy assets operated and maintained by the company and establishes a strategic opportunity to offer additional value-added services to both existing and new customers in Europe.
"skytron has a high quality, operations-based foundation and a strong portfolio of valued customers," said Bob Callery, First Solar's Vice President of Operations and Maintenance. "They bring considerable strategic value to our global O&M offering, as well as a pathway to expand our services across the entire solar value chain. Our combined expertise enables power plants to operate with the reliability of conventional generation resources, further establishing solar as a given part of the global energy mix."
"This is a very positive move for skytron-energy," said Jeffrey Casper, Chief Restructuring Officer of AEG Power Solutions and member of the board of directors. "Joining First Solar assures that skytron will continue to provide customers leading-edge monitoring, supervision and plant control solution systems. skytron benefits from the reach of First Solar's powerful sales and service network, as well as its installed base. This deal opens a wealth of prospective growth and development for all parties."
Citing a GTM Research report, Callery said the O&M market size in Europe was 25 gigawatts (GW) in 2013, and is projected to grow to 35GW by 2017. skytron grew its monitored fleet by 37 percent in 2013, and First Solar grew its global monitored fleet by 176 percent in that same period. "There is clearly an opportunity for skytron and First Solar to provide innovative, reliable solutions and expertise to power plant owners," Callery added.
According to Callery, skytron will operate as a subsidiary of First Solar, and will maintain its own brand identity, which has recognized value in its various markets. "skytron-energy employees will remain with the organization," he said, "and operations will continue without disruption."