LONDON – Heliatek GmbH has opened its first production facility for the manufacture of flexible organic solar cells with a ceremony at the Dresden site attended by the Prime Minister of Saxony, Stanislaw Tillich.
The company said it would roll products for portable photovoltaics in the second half of 2012 before moving into building-integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) applications. The company's CEO indicated the company would seek to raise another 50 million euro (about $65 million) later this year, to add to $27 million raised in 2009.
Heliatek (Dresden, Germany), formed in 2006 as a spin off from the Universities of Dresden and Ulm, has invested 14 million euro (about $18 million) in the construction of the Dresden factory. Heliatek's line produces organic solar cells in a roll-to-roll process using vacuum deposition at low temperatures. Although organic solar cells have lower conversion efficiency than silicon-based solar cells the Heliatek process holds the potential to significantly reduce costs in mass production the company claims.
There are a number of organic solar cell manufacturers that are using printing technology but Heliatek claims it is the only company that specializes in solar panel manufacture using vacuum deposition of small molecules (oligomers) on flexible film.
The use of vacuum deposition brings advantages of better process control, higher efficiency and longer life, said Heliatek.
The resulting panels offer a diverse range of dimensions, colors and transparencies. The panels weigh only 500 gram per square meter and this combination of features makes them suitable for a range of portable, in-building and automotive applications.
From left to right: Prime Minister Tillich, Thibaud Le Séguillon (Heliatek CEO) and Martin Pfeiffer (Heliatek CTO) at opening of Dresden organic solar cell factory.
"Heliatek will roll out its organic solar film for Energy-2-Go applications in the fall of 2012. Key product features will allow us to take truly green solar power everywhere it's needed," said Thibaud Le Seguillon, CEO of Heliatek, in a statement. "At the next step, the first volume market will be BIPV. To support this strategy, we plan to close another round of financing this year, during which we should raise 50 million euro from current and new investors for an additional production line."
Current investors include: BASF Venture Capital, Bosch, Innogy Venture Capital (RWE), and Wellington Partners. "Organic photovoltaic is an important next generation technology for BASF," said Dirk Nachtigal, managing director of BASF Venture Capital. That's why BASF is developing new organic materials for solar cells that enable efficient and competitive energy generation.
Martin Pfeiffer, CTO and co-founder of Heliatek – together with his fellow researchers, Prof. Karl Leo and Jan Blochwitz-Nimoth – was honored with the Deutscher Zukunftspreis, the German President's Award for Technology and Innovation, in December 2011 for their achievements in the development of organic electronics.
Heliatek entered the Silicon 60, EE Times' list of
emerging startup companies at version 10.0 in April 2010. The latest
edition of the Silicon 60 is version 12.5, which is the subject of a
detailed technology and employment digital edition which can be accessed