CdTe/Si PV partners Sunovia, EPIR expand R&D/pilot production facilities in Illinois

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Sunovia Energy Technologies and EPIR Technologies have expanded their R&D and pilot production facilities in Bolingbrook, IL. The partners said that the facility expansion allows them to begin optimization of their high-efficiency, low-cost cadmium telluride on silicon (CdTe/Si) concentrated photovoltaic devices. Once optimized, pilot-scale production will begin at the same facility.

The companies–which recently won a Solar America Initiative photovoltaic technology preincubator award from DOE–also expanded their materials synthesis and device fabrication facility to 26,000 square feet, including 4000 square feet of cleanroom lab space.

Sunovia and EPIR have partnered to commercialize a novel approach to photovoltaics–growing high-quality, single-crystal layers of CdTe on silicon. By producing a very-high-efficiency CdTe/Si solar cell and concentrating the sunlight that strikes it up to 500 times its normal intensity, a significantly higher amount of electricity can be produced in a given area and at a lower cost than traditional PV, they claim.

The cost of the facility expansion, capacity of the pilot line, and timetable for commercialization of a CdTe/Si product line have not been disclosed by the companies.

Siva Sivananthan, founder/CEO of EPIR, said that “this expanded laboratory and pilot production space will accelerate our already fast-paced R&D efforts. Both our facility expansion and R&D progress are at least 12 months ahead of schedule. In preparation for our first CdTe/Si product, we have designed this facility in a manner that will allow us to transition into pilot production using the same space and equipment.”

“By basing our concentrator solar cells on silicon instead of germanium, as is the norm for the high efficiency III-V concentrator cells produced today, we can use production equipment that the integrated circuit industry has spent years and hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars optimizing,” he explained.

“By leveraging the infrared materials and sensor expertise within EPIR Technologies, we have not only expedited the commercialization process for the high-efficiency solar wafers, but have done it at a drastically reduced development cost.” said Carl Smith, chairman/CEO of Sunovia. “The solar modules that we are commercializing are among the most efficient in the world and can be manufactured at a fraction of the cost of other solar cells.”

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