The last 12 months for Suntech have been quite successful, even amid the chaos surrounding Suntech’s response to accusations by US companies of impeding US growth. Technology Review’s annual list comprises 50 of the world’s most innovative companies and Suntech has been nominated in the energy and materials category. Editors look for companies that have demonstrated original, valuable technology to market and significantly influencing their competitors.
Recently, EuPD awarded Suntech the Top Brand PV seal; a team of researchers from Swinburne University of Technology and Suntech developed the world's most efficient broadband nanoplasmonic solar cells. In December 2011, PV-Tech awarded Suntech's crystalline silicon solar panel as the most innovative solar product of 2011 and received the Gigaton Award.
The Technology Review’s awards cover energy, transportation, computing, web and digital media, materials and biomedicine. The companies chosen have to demonstrate their inventions have reshaped their industries and transformed our lives.
Alongside Suntech, other companies in its category, includes Shell for learning to exploit oil resources that were previously impractical to access, Wildcat Discover for its use of high-speed methods to find materials that improve the performance of batter. WiTricity, has been nominated because it has developed a more convenient way to charge electric cars.
“Suntech shows why mastering manufacturing is crucial in getting energy technologies to scale,” said Jason Pontin, editor-in-chief and publisher of Technology Review. “It is driving down the cost of solar cells and improving their efficiency.”
“We're honored to be recognized by MIT Technology Review as one of the world's most innovative companies,” said Dr. Zhengrong Shi, Suntech's founder and chief executive officer. “Due to incremental innovation and economies of scale, the best photovoltaic technologies are now competing in the mainstream against traditional sources of power generation. Suntech will continue to invest heavily in advanced photovoltaic research, and, more importantly, in bringing that technology to the market. All of our efforts are focused on one thing: making solar electricity affordable for everyone, everywhere.”
Two Suntech innovations that achieved large-scale production in 2011 are its Pluto cell processing technology and its SuperPoly silicon processing technology. Suntech's Pluto cell processing technology, developed in collaboration with the University of New South Wales, features a proprietary front surface metallization process that creates grid contacts thinner than 30 microns wide, about a quarter the size of traditional screen-printed cells. These ultra-thin metal lines – made primarily of copper instead of silver – reduce shading on the cell surface, allowing the cells to absorb more sunlight and generate more electricity.