First Solar hires commercial chief

First Solar has named Joe Kishill, an oil and gas veteran, as its new chief commercial officer, a position left vacant when former COO James Hughes was named chief executive of the company.

As one of First Solar’s top executives, Kishkill will have responsibility for global business development, sales, and international public affairs, with a “primary focus” on “sustainable growth in emerging markets”.

First Solar has rapidly expanded its senior leadership in emerging solar markets in recent months, including the hiring last week of a vice president for business development in Saudi Arabia, a country with enormous potential for utility-scale solar energy.

The appointment of Kishkill, 48, emphases First Solar’s intention to continue its transformation into the world’s leading developer, builder and operator of utility-scale PV projects, amid uncertainty about the future of that sector in the US.

Kishkill has acted most recently as president for the Eastern Hemisphere at Exterran, a multi-billion dollar field services provider for the oil and gas sector.

He formerly served as Enron’s chief executive for South America. Last month First Solar submitted an application for a 162MW unsubsidized PV array in Chile, where it has a 1.5GW pipeline thanks to its acquisition of the developer Solar Chile.