December 16 2008 / by Garry Golden
Category: Energy Year: 2016 Rating: 1
The thin film solar industry is going global. In the past few months we have seen manufacturing agreements that have connected companies based in the US, Italy, Japan, Korea, China and Turkey. And now we have the first major equity stake from a global energy giant Total.
Konarka partners with French oil giant
Konarka has just announced on Monday that it received $45 million in equity financing from the U.S. division of French oil and gas giant Total. The arrangement also includes R&D agreements with Total’s chemical subsidiaries (Atotech, Bostik, Hutchinson, Sartomer) to further development of the startup’s thin-film, organic solar cell technology
With this stake, Total will become the leading shareholder with a 20% equity stake. This is its first major equity stake in a thin film maker, and will expand Total's current silicon-based solar portfolio with Photovoltech and Tenesol.
Materials Science solutions for Distributed Solar Power
This new ink-jet printed 'plastic' solar platform, which can be intergrated into building materials, promises low cost (low efficiency) electricity from the sun.
Thin film solar is largely a low cost distributed power generation technology for local power solutions. It's unlikely that you'll see vast fields of thin film solar panels where traditional silicon or thermal systems are much more efficient for utility scale electricity production.
This investment secures Konarka's position as a Company to Watch in the years ahead. The company has already opened the world's first 1 gigawatt capacity production facility and continues to fund basic research related to carbon-based solar.
What is going to make thin film solar succeed as a global industry?
Investments in materials science research and partnerships with chemical companies that can reduce costs, improve efficiencies and scale up production to make thin film a cheap source of distributed power.
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Image Credit: Konarak Power Plastic module