Despite a surfeit of manufacturing capacity and a dearth in sales, Norwegian solar company NorSun has completed a financing round of $160 million, lead by Good Energies as well as from Scatec and Norsk Hydro.
NorSun manufactures and markets monocrystalline ingots and wafers as well as amorphous silicon panels. The new funds will be used for growth and research and development according to the announcement.
Good Energies and NorSun will also use the funding to build a facility for building thin-film silicon modules. Good Energies and NorSun founded Sunfilm, which makes thin-film solar panels. (Good Energies contributed to 50 percent of the NorSun investment.) Sunfilm is the third factory-in-a-box company in this market, and is much smaller than Oerlikon and Applied Materials. Sunfilm is currently embroiled in a patent lawsuit with Oerlikon (see Oerlikon Solar Sues Sunfilm).
"NorSun's development is very promising and we continue to support the company's growth for the long-term – with this renewed commitment we send a clear signal in these challenging economic times," said Sven Hansen, Chief Investment Officer of Good Energies, in a statement.
The financial crisis has accelerated the solar power industry slow down. So what does Good Energies want to get from its investment? It's something to do, says Shyam Mehta, senior analyst, solar markets at GTM Research.
"There are a lot of factors that would rule against getting into the wafer business at this point of time. Unless NorSun has contracts for the next few years, it might backfire on them," he said. On the other hand, Mehta points out, a good way to lower your costs is to upscale your activity. "If they can get the production they want they will improve their competitive position.
"There's going to be a big shake-out in the industry. Last year you had companies that don't have superior products, but still managed to stay around. In the next two years we're going to see those companies disappear," Mehta said.
Correction: This story has been changed because of an editing mistake. A previous version of this story indicated that the facility Good Energies and NorSun were building would use equipment from Sunfilm.
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