First Solar to buy Germany's Skytron Energy


First Solar has agreed to buy German tech group Skytron Energy from current parent company AEG Power Solutions.

The Berlin-based Skytron provides utility-scale photovoltaic power plant management systems, operations and maintenance services, data monitoring technology and equipment to solar power plants throughout Europe.

Skytron currently has installed monitoring and control systems in more than 600 plants across Europe with a total peak capacity of 5 GW, more than doubling First Solar’s global portfolio of monitored assets.

The companies did not disclose financial details of the deal, which remains subject to approval by Germany’s federal competition watchdog.

First Solar said the acquisition supports its initiative "to provide full, end-to-end energy solutions that vertically integrate solar services and solutions." It would also broaden the company’s portfolio of energy assets operated and maintained by the company and establish 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 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."

Jeffrey Casper, AEG Power Solutions’ chief restructuring officer, added: "This is a very positive move for Skytron-Energy. Joining First Solar assures that Skytron will continue to provide customers leading-edge monitoring, supervision and plant control solution systems."

Casper said Skytron would benefit 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 GW in 2013 and was projected to grow to 35 GW by 2017. Skytron grew its monitored fleet by 37% in 2013 while First Solar’s global monitored fleet grew by 176% 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.

Callery said Skytron would operate as a subsidiary of Arizona-based First Solar and maintain its own brand identity, which has recognized value in its various markets, and that Skytron employees would remain with the company, adding that operations would "continue without disruption."