Applied Power Corporation of Lacey, Washington: Applied Power was acquired by the Idaho Power Company, a company with $1.1 billion in annual revenue that was the first U.S. utility to offer solar electric service to its customers. Applied Power itself recently acquired Alternative Energy Engineering of California, Ascension Technology of Massachusetts and Colorado, and Solar Electric Specialties of Colorado. Applied Power assembles and sells PV systems for applications such as remote sites in national parks, mountaintop telecommunication systems, solar homes and village water pumping systems in developing countries, etc.
AstroPower, Inc. of Newark, Delaware: Originally a government contractor that has become a publicly-traded commercial manufacturer, AstroPower manufactures PV modules, single crystal cells and silicon thin film. Total annual sales equaled $20 million. In June, 1999, AstroPower agreed to develop products for GPU, Inc., a major New Jersey-based utility company; in return, GPU made a major purchase of AstroPower stock.
BP Solarex of Frederick, Maryland: In 1999, British Petroleum merged with Amoco, which with Enron Corporation was a joint owner of Solarex, a photovoltaic firm with 600 employees in Maryland, Virginia and Australia, and annual revenue of $58 million. Enron subsequently sold its share to BP Amoco, making BP Amoco sole owner of America’s largest photovoltaic firm. It remains unclear how BP Amoco will merge the operations of Solarex with BP’s solar arm, BP Solar, a firm with 900 employees in India, Australia, Spain and California, and annual revenue of $95 million. BP Solar projects annual revenues of $150 million, representing 20 per cent of the global market, and the firm seeks $1 billion in annual revenue by 2007.
Solarex has manufactured both polycrystalline silicon and potentially cheaper-but so far less efficient-thin film modules. Recently, the firm purchased a Swedish and a South African PV module manufacturer, to assemble American-made PV cells into modules ready for installation in growing European and African markets. Meanwhile, BP Solar has built markets in 160 nations, and particularly in developing nations, for its mono-crystalline and thin film technology. A vertically integrated firm, BP Solar manufactures cells, assembles PV systems, and installs and services grid-connected and stand-alone systems.
Golden Genesis Company of Scottsdale, Arizona: Kyocera Corporation, the world’s largest PV cell producer, acquired Golden Genesis (formerly Photocomm, Inc.) in July of 1999. The resulting merger produces a vertically-integrating PV firm with combined annual sales of $185 million, to be named Kyocera Solar. The merged company will assemble, distribute and install products made from Kyocera cells, including PV power systems for lighting, telecommunications, cathodic protection and data acquisition for oil and gas pipelines, water pumping, etc.
Powerlight of Berkeley, California: PowerLight is a full-service company offering unique solar electric products and complete energy solutions, from initial consultation to installation, project development, maintenance and financing. According to the company, Power Light’s patented photovoltaic (PV) products provide solar energy at the lowest possible cost in the industry, and are uniquely designed to install seamlessly onto existing building infrastructures, without penetrations.
Siemens Solar Industries of Camarillo, California: Siemens Solar is affiliated with Siemens AG of Germany and Siemens Corporation of the U.S.; the Siemens Solar Group as a whole enjoys annual revenue of $78 million (1997), employs 475 people worldwide, and has American facilities in California and Vancouver, Washington. Siemens produces both crystalline and thin film PV cells, which are sold wholesale to PV system integrators.
Spire Corporation of Bedford, Massachusetts: In addition to its biomedical processing and optoelectronic divisions, Spire is the world’s largest producer of PV manufacturing equipment. Spire also supports its production lines with process technology, spare parts, training and equipment warranty. Annual revenue is $14 million.
Trace Engineering Corporation of Arlington, Washington: Trace designs and manufactures battery chargers and inverters, which convert the direct current generated by photovoltaic systems into the alternating current used by most appliances and the national electric grid. Trace also manufactures accessories such as cables, charge controllers and remote controls. Trace employs 125 people, and recently acquired the rights to bankrupt Kenetech Windpower’s power conversion technology, which it will manufacture as Trace Technology Corporation.