Date: Friday 06 Jul 2012
Semi-conductor wafer products provider IQE has received its first major orders for concentrating photovoltaic (CPV) wafers from Solar Junction, a leading edge CPV cell developer and manufacturer.
The orders are worth a total of $1.95m, with $1m of that for first production wafers and $950K for development wafers for improving the efficiency of Solar Junction's CPV products. To put that into context, IQE had revenues of just over £75m in 2011. IQE signed a seven-year exclusive wafer supply agreement with Solar Junction in February 2012.
In an interview with Sharecast in June Dr Drew Nelson, the President and Chief Executive Officer, was evangelical about the CPV technology, saying it would make traditional silicon-based solar panels obsolete.
"In hot countries, this new technology is already on a par on a cost-basis with all other forms of power generation and is far more efficient than traditional solar panels in terms of converting heat to energy," Dr Nelson said, adding as an aside that traditional solar panels become less efficient at converting energy the hotter they become.
Solar Junction currently holds the world record for CPV cell efficiency at 43.5% and, in conjunction with IQE's proprietary internal wafer technology, aims to develop cell architectures with efficiencies of more than 50%. in contrast, silicon-based panels typically achieve an efficiency rate in the mid-teens.
CPV project announcements during 2012 are exceeding industry projections, with more than 650 megawatts (MW) of project announcements thus far, IQE noted.
IQE is looking to capitalise on that demand and recently signed a win-win deal with RF Micro Devices (RFMD) in which it received for free RFMD's 150,000 square foot molecular beam epitaxy (MBE) epi-wafer production facility in North Carolina in return for offering RFMD what Dr Nelson described as a "cash-back deal" to RFMD; the new production facility will significantly boost IQE's manufacturing capacity.
"Our long term, exclusive wafer supply agreement with the world record holders in cell efficiency, coupled with the large scale manufacturing capacity now in place following our deal to acquire RFMD's in-house MBE production capacity, position IQE to be a major wafer supplier to the rapidly emerging CPV industry, by far the most efficient of any solar technology."
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