Why First Solar is buying a silicon solar cell startup no one’s heard of


Gigaom

First Solar (s FSLR) is buying an under-the-radar startup called TetraSun to add expertise around silicon solar cell manufacturing to its technology portfolio, which until now has focused on using the material cadmium telluride to make solar cells.

The Arizona-based thin film solar giant announced the pending acquisition on Tuesday during its analyst day — its first since 2009 — in which it laid out a persuasive technology and business development plan for the next five years. Investors liked what they heard and pushed the company’s stock up by nearly 50 percent during trading.

The announcement also came after the company’s top executives spent the entire day taking shots at silicon solar technology, which they said hasn’t been able to make a big leap in its sunlight-to-electricity conversion rate for years and is approaching the theoretical limit of its efficiency. First Solar’s bread and butter cadmium telluride, on the other…

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