Mon August 15, 2011

Ascent Solar Inks Deal with Asian Investors

Thornton-based Ascent Solar has announced a $275 million deal with a China firm that’s expected to greatly expand the Colorado start up’s footprint in the rapidly growing east Asian market. 

Under the deal, China-based TFG Radiant Group will own about a fifth of Ascent Solar’s shares, and hold the exclusive license for the company’s lightweight and flexible, thin-film solar panels. 

In return, Ascent will hold a stake in a soon-to-be-built $165 million TFG factory in China. 

Analysts say US solar companies are under enormous pressure to ramp up their scale of production, and the deal is widely viewed as one that will help Ascent better compete in an increasingly crowded, global market. 

"It will be a big shot in the arm," said Seth Masia, managing editor of Solar Today magazine in Boulder.

Masia said it's not unusual and in fact follows a pattern emerging among Colorado start-ups.  Earlier this year, Arvada-based Prime Star Solar was acquired by industry giant General Electric and as a result, is set to build one of the nation’s largest photo-voltaic solar panel factories.

"This business is where the computer business was about twenty years ago, when desktop computers were first arriving on the scene," Masia said. "It’s going to explode."