Three-dimensional solar cell developer Solar3D claims its next major step towards commercial introduction will be a manufactured prototype and a pilot production run sometime in 2013.
Should these steps prove successful, the company has said that it would seek a manufacturing partner with the chance the technology could enter the commercial market by the end of 2013.
The company does not expect to produce the cell itself as it believed it would not be able to compete with the leading low-cost PV manufacturers from China.
However, it was not clear whether the start-up would pursue a fab-less business model or simply become an IP provider, licensing the technology. The company has made several claims about the 3D cells' potentially low fabrication cost, based on modelling. But the key will be whether the real-world costs can compete on an adjusted efficiency basis.
Leading cell efficiency leader SunPower has struggled for years to compete with low cost module manufacturers, despite holding world record cell efficiencies and advanced manufacturing throughout the cell and module manufacturing process.