Chinese Solar Developer Acquires Silicon Valley Startup

China Solar Power (CSP), a Hong Kong-based maker of solar PV panels, founded by Charles Johnson, the former CEO of asset management company Templeton Worldwide, has acquired ThinSilicon, a maker of thin-film solar panels.

Mountain View, Calif.-based ThinSilicon, launched in 2007 by three Stanford University PhD candidates studying material sciences, has developed a process that boosts the efficiency of thin-film PV modules. Investors in ThinSilicon include FireLake Capital Management and Spring Ventures. CSP is owned by Hong Kong-based asset management firm Tano Capital.

The companies did not disclose financial terms.

China, which is fast emerging as a leading developer of green power, is expected to add more than 450 megawatts of new solar capacity next year. To meet that growing demand CSP is growing its production capacity.

CSP is planing to expand production at its facility located in the city of Yantai to 32 megawatts annually by 2010. The company has also launched construction of a second thin-film PV plant  in Jiangyin, China, and has entered into development and financing agreements to build and operate two additional production facilities. Combined CSP expects to produce 500 megawatts of thin-film panels annually.

In a prepared statement CSP’s Co-Founder Charles Johnson said:

China Solar Power’s mission is to become a major global, low-cost manufacturer of thin film PV modules. The environmental benefits of thin film technology over traditional mono and polycrystalline silicon are well documented. The acquisition of ThinSilicon will help position us as China’s lowest-cost manufacturer of PV modules, in addition to having the lowest carbon footprint per MW of any PV module manufacturer in China.

Also eyeing a major expansion into China is CSP competitor, First Solar, the world’s largest maker of thin-film panels. The Tempe, Ariz., company recently signed an MOU with the Chinese government to develop a 2 gigawatts solar farm in the country’s Inner Mongolia region.

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