Innova Research: M&As in Thin-Film and CPV Solar Technology Fields Stepping Up Rapidly

The M&A transaction value on the thin-film solar technology increased to $1.08 billion in 2014, growing at 16.3% from 2011 to 2014, while it increased to $247 million in 2014 for concentrated PV technology, growing at 27.1%.

Merger & acquisition in global solar industry has been heating up rapidly, according to a recently published market research report by Innova Research, entitled “Chasing the Sun: Searching for Game Changers in Disruptive Photovoltaic Technologies”. According to the study, the numbers of M&A deals in the solar industry have been increasing since 2011, and the deal values growing at a 19% CAGR for the period from 2011 to 2014. The report covered all major alternative solar technologies (other than conventional x-Si), including Copper indium gallium (di)selenide (CIGS), Cadmium Telluride (CdTe), thin-film silicon (TF-Si), concentrated PV (CPV), organic PV (OPV), dye-sensitized solar cell (DSSC), copper zinc tin sulfide (CZTS), quantum dot (QD), and perovskite solar cells. Among the alternative solar technologies, it was not surprising that most M&A deals favored relatively tested technologies, namely thin-film solar and CPV while few were recorded in early-stage solar PV technologies, such as perovskite solar cells.  More specifically, on the thin-film PV technology, the M&A transaction value increased to an estimated $1.08 billion in 2014, growing at a CAGR of 16.3% from 2011 to 2014, while on the CPV technology, the M&A value increased to an estimated $247 million in 2014, growing at a CAGR 27.1% for the same period.

Other selected key findings included:

Thin-film and CPV technologies are poised for large commercialization in the near future while the 3rd generation PV technologies still have a long way to go towards that goal. We believe that the winners among the emerging PV technologies will be CIGS and high-concentrating PV (HCPV), both are benefiting from their outstanding cost reduction potentials and the feasibility for massive adoptions.

Nancy Wu, Research Director of Innova Research

·         Hanergy acquired multiple CIGS technology developers, including Solibro, Miasolé, and Global Solar, in 2013; the company continued on hunting down another leading GaAs module supplier, Alta Devices, in 2014.

·         Other Chinese solar module makers were also actively acquiring CIGS companies. A couple of examples were Aikosolar acquiring Scheuten Solar in 2012, and China National Building Materials (CNBM) bought out Avancis from Saint-Gobain in 2014.

·         First Solar, the CdTe market leader, showed interests in acquiring balance-of-system (BoS) assets,acquiring RayTracker, a tracking system developer, in 2011, and Skytron Energy, a PV monitor system manufacturer, in 2014.

·         Other US and European players were active in acquiring CPV technologies, with major deals being the acquisition of Soliant by Emcore and the acquisition of Greenvolts by Soitec in 2011. However, Chinese players conducted more acquisition in CPV field after 2012, and examples included the acquisition of Emcore and Zenith Solar by Suncore Photovoltaic in 2014.

·         Only sporadic M&A activities were seen in other emerging solar technologies primary due to their immaturity and the lack of solid product value proposition. Nevertheless, examples did exist in DSSC and OPV segments, for example, the acquisition of 3G Solar by Huaxiang Group, and the acquisition of Plextronics by Solvay in 2014.

In the report, Innova Research also analyzed the alternative solar technologies based on key technology indices, IP activities and capacity expansion.

The report, “Chasing the Sun: Searching for Game Changers in Disruptive Photovoltaic Technologies,” is part of the Innova Research Renewable Energy and Environmental Technologies service. 

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