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CIGS thin-film maker Siva Power has received the initial portion of an anticipated US$15 million in investment, which the company said it intends to put towards scaling up its production facilities to gigawatt production capacity.
To begin with, the US based start-up said it would use the capital raised on a mini-module factory, where research and development into cost-reduction processes for module manufacturing will be employed. Details of factory location and size have not been disclosed. The company claims the investment could bring Siva Power a step closer to producing solar thin-film modules at a cost of US$0.40 per watt.
Investors in the latest round included the city of Wuxi in China, which is investing in Siva Power for the first time, along with Trident Capital, Acero Capital and DBL Investors, all of which have previously invested in the company.
In announcing the latest wave of investment, Siva Power claimed that its module technology could surpass the target solar module cost of US$0.50 per watt set by the US Department of Energy in its Sunshot Initiative. At the end of last year, Sunshot Initiative director Minh Le told PV Tech that Sunshot was 60% of the way to its target cost reduction target for 2020 but said the final push would be the toughest part. Siva Power claims that with ramping up of production, it can see a way clear to bringing cost down to US$0.40 per watt.
The company, which was previously known as Solexant, began focusing exclusively on CIGS thin-film technology in tandem with its rebrand as Siva Power in November last year. The company said the reason behind the move was that with scaled-up production, it saw more potential for cost reduction in thin-film than in certain other types of solar module production technology. In February Siva Power also reported a CIGS cell efficiency of 18.8%, which it claims was verified by the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).
Thin-film recently fell out of favour with the solar industry to some extent, due to the relatively low efficiencies of the material, but start-ups and existing players are starting to re-invigorate the thin-film market. Trade duties recently applied to solar cells traded internationally are not applied to thin-film, increasing its competitiveness.
Japanese thin-film company Solar Frontier at the beginning of this year also announced that it would build a relatively small module manufacturing facility in east Japan with a view to exploring cost reduction through R&D. In addition, the factory, which will have a production capacity of 150MW, will be used by Solar Frontier to test the effectiveness of building local module production facilities in close proximity to regional markets the company is targeting.
This article has been amended from its original form to clarify that the funding received was the initial portion of an anticipated US$15 million the company is hoping to raise and not the full amount.