Member companies of large South Korean conglomerate SK Group have agreed to invest $50 million in HelioVolt to collaborate on technology development and help the CIGS thin-film PV company expand its manufacturing capabilities. While confirming that the funds are an equity investment in the Austin, TX-based firm, company chairman BJ Stanbery would not disclose to PV-Tech what ownership percentage the SK outlay represents.
“The current investment is specifically [designated] to test the feasibility of our commercial production technology and also to expand our operations in Austin and test the next generation of production tools as we go into larger-scale production,” Stanbery said in an interview.
“These funds will be used to expand into a new location,” he continued. “The kind of capacity we anticipate putting on going forward, hundreds of megawatts and eventually gigawatts in production, is going to require a lot more space than we have in Austin.”
HelioVolt has a 20MW facility, which the company says does not have any additional room for expansion.
Although the site selection process is not yet under way, Stanbery said that current planning “anticipates ~100MW [phases] of scaled incremental capacity,” but that the timeline and scope for the “rollout of that has not been determined. We will be able to announce something next year about our capacity expansion plans.”
Noting the many benefits of partnering with a corporation the size and breadth of SK—with its 75 subsidiaries and affiliate companies spread across multiple industries–he believes the new funds will “accelerate the ramp to scale because of the resources they can bring to bear.”
Bank of America Merrill Lynch acted as HelioVolt's exclusive placement agent for the deal.