Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT) and First Solar, Inc. (Nasdaq: FSLR) have announced a strategic alliance to develop an integrated photovoltaic (PV) solar solution for microgrid applications. Under the agreement, 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 components.
Caterpillar will exclusively sell and support the integrated solution featuring Cat-branded solar panels through its worldwide Cat dealer network, along with its current offerings of generator sets and energy storage. Acting as a central source, 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 today.
Microgrids provide value to prime power diesel and gas customers by integrating renewable energy, such as solar power, with generator sets. With these solutions, Caterpillar can help deliver reliable, cost-effective and sustainable energy for customers.
"We are excited to announce this alliance, underpinned by First Solar's 10 gigawatts of global experience in solar energy, and coupled with Caterpillar's knowledge of generator sets and distributed power, and the strength of our unmatched dealer network," said Steve Niehaus, Caterpillar Vice President 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."
"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. It is also evidence of the role that solar can play in enabling the local generation and distribution of energy to address specific needs," said Marc van Gerven, First Solar's Vice President for Global Marketing. "By entering into this alliance with Caterpillar, with its extensive experience and reach, we're 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 for customers in that region in the second half of 2015.