CIGS PV developer AQT scores $10M in funding, signs equipment deal with Intevac

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In a major step toward commercialization, CIGS thin-film photovoltaics developer Applied Quantum Technology has landed $10 million in funding and also signed a production equipment deal with Intevac. The funds, which come from the company’s original investors as well as some new backers, will be used to build out AQT’s initial 15MW solar-cell production line in Silicon Valley and expand its staff.

The company said that the first Intevac processing system will be delivered to its new Silicon Valley development and manufacturing center in the second quarter, in order to ramp production in time to fulfill current customer orders due by the end of 2010.

The new funding brings the total investment in the company to almost $15 million.

“This latest investment is a testament to the enormous progress we have made in the last 12 months across our company and will fuel substantial milestones over the next four quarters,” said Michael Bartholomeusz, CEO of AQT.

AQT seeks to leverage Intevac’s manufacturing technologies and platforms that have been field-proven in the hard disk-drive industry. The company says that its technology allows for continuous in-line manufacturing, which simplifies and streamlines the copper-indium-gallium-(di)selenide manufacturing process, resulting in the highest projected capital utilization efficiency in the industry, while minimizing costs.

The CIGS company claims that its highly scalable architecture allows it to produce very-low-cost drop-in replacements for conventional crystalline-silicon cells.

“This agreement with Intevac is a major step toward capitalizing on AQT’s breakthrough CIGS 2.0 approach,” said Bartholomeusz. “Our leverage-based business model depends on strategic partners like Intevac in order to address the three critical success factors required by the new PV market realities: scalability, aggressive cost reduction, and continuous technical advancement. Intevac  enables AQT to address our mission to achieve the highest cost/performance ratio of any solar-cell manufacturer.”

“This agreement is an important milestone for Intevac as this tool will represent our first shipment in the solar industry,” said Kevin Fairbairn, president/CEO of Intevac. “By leveraging our proven high-throughput lean manufacturing platform, Intevac  enables the economic solution to AQT and the solar-cell industry for conventional cell sizes.

“AQT is an important business partner, and we are excited to begin a long-term partnership as their manufacturing equipment supplier utilizing their CIGS process technology,” he noted.

Intevac is also collaborating with another CIGS developer, XsunX, to develop that company’s TFPV production scheme.

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