LONDON – Heliatek GmbH, a 2006 startup company pioneering the development and manufacture of flexible, organic photovoltaic cells, is about to begin production of the first such products at its Dresden factory.
"We are finishing the manufacturing line; we will be in production in the next few weeks," Thibaud Le Seguillon, CEO of Heliatek, told EE Times in a phone interview.
Thibaud Le Seguillon, CEO of Heliatek.
Heliatek, 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 which is nonetheless a pilot fab intended for use working with multiple customers and characterizing products for them. As and when a high volume requirement is identified that is likely to go to production in a second much larger fab that Heliatek has planned, also to be built in Dresden.
The second line is dependent on obtaining the funds – not easy in the current European economic climate – said Le Seguillon. But with the benefits of being a renewable energy technology and involved in manufacturing for export, the project has a better chance than many of getting funded.
Heliatek is looking to raise 60 million euro (about $75 million) and has 25 million euro (about $30 million) pledged from existing investors that include BASF, Bosch, RWE, Wellington Partners, eCapital, Hightech Grunderfonds, TGFS and GP Bullhound.
The sticking point for any investor is likely to be the fragile nature of the photovoltaic business which has seen a number of bankruptcies over the last couple of years. That must be overcome through confidence in the underlying technology and the markets in can address.
They are stating 12% in 18 months. Was your comparison to other thin film modules which are currently at 12% or against silicon based modules which are currently 16-20%+ (at module level).
I disagree with the comment on double glaze. Sure they do leak, but even my house has double glaze windows from the 60s with no visible condensation or icing. Modern double glazing can and does last 20+ years. Sure some will fail, but not all and failure will depend on what other treatments are protecting the cells. Many failures of double glazing have nothing to do with the window and everything to do with the poor, typically residential installation. How many foggy windows in commercial windows do you see? As a percentage, not many at all and I live close to a glass jungle.
Good to see that this company is making good progress...inceasing the efficiency from 9.8% to 12%, building the plant ready for production in the weaker economic conditions...all great achivements for the company. Now the challenges going forward would be to find the markets. It appears that the company is looking forward to auto companies and the building construction companies or the glass manufacturing companies as the major customers? I think success for Heliatek would now depend on how best these industries come up with some attractive, practical applications for the OPVs.
It is good to have continual technology breakthrough on OPV. I believe some days in the future we all can get good cost with OPV material and be able to make our concrete and glass building into a environmental friendly energy harvester.
Double glazing leaks - as soon as it does that, your organic panels are garbage. Calculate all the lifetimes you want, getting more than 10 years or so out of a double glazed window seal is impossible - especially where there is flexing of the window material. The costs is also suspect, and the weight will be huge - now you need two glass substrates instead of one. It's not mentioned, but there is likely a reliance on the glass to filter UV. Good luck with that one, again based on my experience with faded furniture behind UV filtered picture windows.
The efficiency mentioned here is quite matching with the presently available non-organic hard solar panels. This is a very good achievement. The acceptability of the product now totally depends on the price and life of the product as it is being targeted for long lasting products like buildings and cars.
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