Natcore Technology, exclusive licensee of a proprietary thin-film growth technology from Rice University, has added to its portfolio with the acquisition of Vanguard Solar, a private company developing key intellectual property in the solar realm. The closing of the transaction is subject to the completion of due diligence and legal documents.
Vanguard has developed a flexible, thin-film photovoltaic material that is claimed to be capable of efficiencies similar to those of silicon cells, but at a fraction of the cost. The company uses a proprietary chemical bath process to grow II-VI compound semiconductor thin films on carbon nanotubes at room temperature and ambient pressure.
Natcore’s technology is similar, but its liquid phase deposition (LPD) technology focuses on the production of solar cells by growing silicon dioxide films on silicon substrates. The company claims that there is potential for mass manufacturing of super-efficient (30%+) tandem solar cells with double the power output of most solar products. The news comes soon after Natcore’s announced intention of setting up a joint venture in China to develop materials and equipment for solar cell production.
The acquisition of Vanguard by Natcore could, with the combination of technologies and knowledge, result in first-generation products at 15%-16% efficiencies, at the low module cost of 60-70 cents per watt. Second-generation technology could potentially reach 20% efficiencies at even lower manufacturing costs, according to the company.
Production facilities for future development is expected to be as low as US$10 million to US$15 million per 100-150MW production capacity – vastly lower than the costs associated with standard cell production factories. Vanguard’s existing equipment base can be easily incorporated into an existing roll-to-roll film-coating line, which makes this development venture potentially very cost-effective.