Intersolar: First Solar targets European O&M business

Exhibiting at Intersolar Europe for the first time in three years, First Solar brought out Chief Commercial Officer (CCO) Joe Kishkill to Munich, who said that the company is looking to expand its O&M operations in established European markets. The firm’s acquisition of Germany’s Skytron Energy, announced earlier this week, is a key part of this strategy.

"The acquisition is a great way to acquire a company that gives us the ability to expand that core O&M business," said Kishkill. "So we’ve been able to do a lot of monitoring and there is a huge wealth of Skytron knowledge and experience that absolutely adds value to us."

Kishkill added that monitoring performance across a range of locations and technologies will provide First Solar valuable insights in the O&M business.

"We will now have a much broader understanding of how various platforms perform, what the good and bad things are," said Kishkill. "There is a certain value in this broader information base."

Skytron operates a multi-gigawatt portfolio of installations globally and well above 1 GW in Europe. There have been discussions across the three-day show about what First Solar will learn about the performance of a wide array of module and inverter technologies through acquiring the Berlin-based Skytron.

The Skytron acquisition will also significantly increase First Solar’s headcount in Europe. CCO Kishkill also fine tuned the company’s leadership in Europe after joining the company in September 2013.

"Christoffer Burghardt was running a larger region previously; now he is really focused on Europe because I think there is a lot of opportunity here," said Kishkill. "We think there may be a perception that First Solar left Europe, but we never really did. We did close the manufacturing facility but that’s really driven by the economics, trying to lower the cost of production and so a lot of it has moved to Malaysia."

The Intersolar Europe trade show winds up today.