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1 May 2015

First Solar allies with Caterpillar to develop integrated PV for microgrid applications

First Solar Inc of Tempe, AZ, USA, which makes thin-film photovoltaic modules based on cadmium telluride (CdTe) as well as providing engineering, procurement & construction (EPC) services, has announced a strategic alliance with Caterpillar Inc to develop an integrated photovoltaic (PV) solar solution for microgrid applications.

First Solar will design and manufacture a pre-engineered turnkey package for use in remote microgrid applications, such as small communities and mine sites. The package will feature Cat-branded solar panels manufactured by First Solar and will include a balance of system (BoS) components.

Caterpillar (which manufactures construction and mining equipment, diesel and natural gas engines, industrial gas turbines and diesel-electric locomotives) will exclusively sell and support the integrated solution featuring Cat-branded solar panels through its worldwide Cat dealer network, along with its existing offerings of generator sets and energy storage. Acting as a central source, it is reckoned that Cat dealers will be uniquely positioned to provide customers with this fully integrated and supported single solution in the large and rapidly growing microgrid market.

Microgrids provide value to prime power diesel and gas customers by integrating renewable energy, such as solar power, with generator sets. Caterpillar says that, with these solutions, it can help deliver reliable, cost-effective and sustainable energy.

The alliance is underpinned by First Solar's 10GW of global experience in solar energy, coupled with Caterpillar's knowledge of generator sets and distributed power as well as the strength of its dealer network, says Steve Niehaus, Caterpillar's VP 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," he adds. 

"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," says Marc van Gerven, First Solar's VP 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," he adds. "By entering into this alliance with Caterpillar, with its extensive experience and reach, we are establishing an important new precedent for the commercialization and scaling of microgrid-based distributed generation solutions."

Caterpillar expects to first market the new microgrid solution in the Asia Pacific, Africa and Latin America regions, with the integrated PV solution (including Cat-branded solar panels) available in second-half 2015.

Tags: First Solar Thin-film photovoltaic CdTe

Visit: www.caterpillar.com

Visit: www.firstsolar.com

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