Solar innovation to support ‘Energiewende’

  • Federal Environment Minister Peter Altmaier and the Prime Minister of Saxony, Stanislaw Tillich, witness the trial production of solar film technology at Heliatek GmbH in Dresden, Germany.
  • Heliatek intends to raise an additional €60 million to significantly increase capacity.

Federal Environment Minister Peter Altmaier, along with Saxony’s Prime Minister, Stanislaw Tillich, visited Heliatek GmbH in Dresden on August 17, 2012. Heliatek’s innovative products will support the energy transformation towards sustainability in new ways never thought possible before.

Heliatek manufactures energy harvesting components made of flexible solar films based on organic semiconductor materials. The company inaugurated its first production facility last March in Dresden in the presence of Prime Minister Tillich. The state-of-the-art manufacturing line is now up and running, with the plant carrying out the scheduled trial production. This visit emphasizes the German Government’s commitment to continue to provide extensive support for the research and development of environmentally friendly energy technologies.

Cutting-edge technology enables solar energy harvesting components

Thibaud Le Séguillon, CEO of Heliatek GmbH, and Dr. Martin Pfeiffer, co-founder and CTO, gave Federal Environment Minister Peter Altmaier and Prime Minister of Saxony Stanislaw Tillich a tour of the production facility. As Heliatek is on schedule with commissioning and trial operations for production, the company was able to present its guests with finished solar films.

“Our first customers and partners are early adopters. We work with them closely to make our product a de-facto standard as solar energy harvesting components,” explains CEO Thibaud Le Séguillon and continues: ”Energiewende goes beyond replacing nuclear power plants with wind and solar farms. Heliatek solar films will be used in applications never served before by traditional PV.”

Thanks to the film’s ultra-light weight, transparency and superior performance, Heliatek’s customers will be able to integrate the solar films for example into building and construction materials, car-roofs and street furniture. The first solar films coming out of the line will be used for concrete façade projects as well as for pilots and prototypes with partners.

Sustainable market growth requires investors with a strategic eye

“Our production is ready, now we intend to raise an additional €60 million from current and new investors to significantly increase the capacity”, says CEO Thibaud Le Séguillon about the next step for Heliatek.

“We are operating the world’s first production line in which organic solar films are manufactured in a roll-to-roll process using vacuum deposition. Our production readiness is a major milestone and allows us to offer our energy harvesting components to our partners for application development by Q3 2012 as scheduled,” adds Le Séguillon.

Dr. Martin Pfeiffer, co-founder and CTO of Heliatek, states: “Our production process is similar to the one used by OLED today, but with the addition of the roll-to-roll element. This is important to mitigate the production ramp-up risks. Heliatek is the recognized world leader in OPV technology. We have an independently confirmed cell efficiency of 10.7 %, a product which passed IEC lifetime tests in our laboratories, and external measurement data that confirms the superior harvesting factor compared to other PV technologies. Our chemistry and physics R&D labs allow us to continuously extend our lead in organic photovoltaics and to improve our already strong patent portfolio; it covers our in-house developed and synthesized molecules, our cell structure and even some of our processes. That’s how we are creating a highly defendable entry barrier for anyone trying to copy us.”

Federal Environment Minister Peter Altmaier concluded by saying that Heliatek was an impressive example for the large development potential that the photovoltaic technology still has to offer. He also said that Germany may not be able to compete with many countries for the cheapest products, however, Germany is at the forefront when it comes to competing for the best technology, and for state-of-the-art and ecological solutions. Prime Minister of Saxony Stanislaw Tillich agreed by saying that companies like Heliatek belong to a new generation of the solar industry and are the best evidence that Saxony is on top of German technology development.

About Heliatek’s organic solar film technology:

The key to Heliatek’s success is the family of small organic molecules – oligomers – developed and synthesized at its own lab in Ulm, Germany.  Heliatek is the only solar company in the world that uses the deposition of small organic molecules in a low temperature, roll-to-roll vacuum process. Its solar tandem cells are made of nanometers-thin layers of high purity and uniformity. This enables the company to literally engineer the cell architecture to systematically improve efficiency and lifespan. This technology is very similar to the well-established OLED technology (organic LEDs) except that it operates in reverse, taking in light to create electricity.  This gives Heliatek access to readily available manufacturing machines, giving it a fast track to reliable, volume production.

About Heliatek:

Heliatek was spun-off in 2006 from the Technical University of Dresden (IAPP) and the University of Ulm. The company is the global leader in the development of organic photovoltaics (OPV) based on small molecules and the manufacture of organic solar films. Heliatek maintains a total staff of some 80 specialists at its facilities in Dresden and Ulm, Germany. Investors in Heliatek include leading industrial and financial companies such as BASF, Bosch, RWE, and Wellington Partners. Research and development work, as well as the installation of production technology, has been funded by the Free State of Saxony, the BMBF (Federal Ministry for Education & Research), the BMWi (Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology) and the European Union. Heliatek is currently working on its first roll-to-roll manufacturing line installed in Dresden, Germany, to go in production in the third quarter of 2012. It has also kicked off a third financing round to raise €60 million from current and new investors for a new roll-to-roll 75 MWp production line.

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