facility. The 250,000 square-foot factory, located in New Bedford, MA, will be used for the commercialization and volume production of the company’s Power Plastic product line.
“This facility has state-of-the-art printing
capabilities that are ready for full operation, with the future
potential to produce over a gigawatt of flexible plastic solar modules
per year,” said Howard Berke, executive
chairman and cofounder of Konarka. “Our
technical leadership and innovation in flexible thin-film solar, along
with this facility’s capabilities of producing
in excess of 10 million square meters of material per year, will allow
us to produce Power Plastic for indoor, portable, outdoor, and building-integrated applications.”
Built and further expanded in the 1990s
for Polaroid’s advanced technology
development and large-scale manufacturing, the OPV firm’s new facility has been retrofitted to immediately begin initial
production of Power Plastic. Using multiple in-line processing stations
with precision multilayer manufacturing processes that are adaptable to
a variety of printing and coating technologies, the facility will enable
the company to further develop and advance nano-enabled polymer
photovoltaic materials that are lightweight, flexible and more versatile
than traditional solar materials.
In addition to acquiring the fully automated
roll-to-roll manufacturing line, the company has also hired the leading
technology and process engineering teams from Polaroid, with plans to
hire more than 100 additional employees as production increases toward
capacity over the next two to three years.
Based in Lowell, MA, with operations in Germany, Austria, and Asia, Konarka has secured over $100 million from leading venture capital and
private equity funds, as well as $18 million in government agency
research grants from the U.S. and Europe–including awards from the Solar America Initiative.
— Tom Cheyney