First Solar Deploying One-Axis Trackers at AV Solar Ranch
In January 2011, First Solar (Nasdaq:FSLR) announced the acquisition of RayTracker, a VC-funded manufacturer of utility-grade single-axis trackers. Although the terms of the acquisition were not disclosed, we later learned from Kang Sun, the founder of the tracker company, that First Solar paid approximately $45 million for the tracker firm, which had received $3.5 million in venture funding from Idealab, The Quercus Trust, and Phoenix Fire -- a multiple of more than 12X.
These are the types of multiples that venture firms hope for -- and which have been in short supply in the VC-funded solar world. Other VC-funded firms that have had happy acquisition endings include Ausra (acquired by Areva) and PowerLight (acquired by SunPower).
According to First Solar, the 230-megawatt AV Solar Ranch One, a recent recipient of a $680 DOE loan guarantee with the project just sold to Exelon, "will employ First Solar's FS Series 3 PV Module and deploy its tracking system on a portion of the facility. The technology will increase electricity output by tilting the solar panels to track the daily path of the sun."