California CPV solar cell maker scales up

Solar Junction, a company that makes multi-junction solar cells for the high concentration photovoltaic market, just got an injection of $19.2 million from investors and a new strategic partner.

Solar Junction, a California company that makes high-efficiency multi-junction cells for the fledgling high concentration photovoltaic market, plans to scale up its manufacturing thanks to an injection of $19.2 million from investors and new strategic partner IQE.

The series D financial round, which closed Monday, included investments from New Enterprise AssociatesAdvanced Technology Ventures, Draper Fidher Jurvetson and IQE. Solar Junction said it sought out IQE as partner for the company's expertise in high volume epitaxy (a method used to grow a thin layer on the surface of a crystal).

Solar concentrating photovoltaic systems is essentially a clean-energy mashup of solar panels and thermal tech. The systems use mirrors and lenses to concentrate light from the sun onto super-efficient cells to produce electricity. The concentrated photovoltaic market is a small, niche market within the solar industry. If CPV companies hope to compete with the lower-cost flat panel PV industry, efficiency gains at the cell level are critical. Even small gains in cell efficiency can help reduce costs of the entire CPV system.

Solar Junction has developed a solar cell that can deliver efficiency over 40 percent, resulting in system efficiency of 28 percent or higher. The company's multi-junction solar cells helped Semprius develop the world's most efficient solar panel . The prototype converts 33.9 percent of the sunlight that hits it into electricity -- more than double the most efficient PV module on the market. Earlier this month, Solar Junction said it received a multi-megawatt order from Semprius.

Photo: Solar Junction


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