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Innovalight Inc. Winter 2009 64.00 USD 68.84 CAN

Revolutionizing Solar Power for the Masses New solar cell processing technology could make high-cost, dirty fossil fuels burned out options of the past.


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Solar Spotlight on Innovalight by Rebecca Rodriguez

A new solar cell processing technology by Innovalight, Inc. could make highcost, dirty fossil fuels burned out options of the past. On the horizon is inexpensive solar power that will revolutionize solar energy for the masses. The traditional silicon solar cell technology, which requires many steps and very high temperatures, is in desperate need of new breakthroughs to lower costs. Innovalight has pioneered advanced silicon-based solar cell technology. Silicon ink is comprised of a dispersion of silicon nanocrystals and can be

printed onto certain substrates. This liquid-based technology offers an inexpensive method to produce lower-cost solar cells. This translates to cheaper solar power on the rooftops of houses and buildings everywhere. Most recently, Innovalight has made news by achieving a record 18 percent conversion efficiency with siliconink processed solar cells. Most solar cells today rate around 15 percent conversion efficiency, which is the percentage of sunlight converted into usable energy, said company president and CEO Conrad Burke. The company’s current goal is to soon reach a 20

percent conversion rate. “In order to reduce the cost of producing extremely high efficiency solar cells – anything above 20 pc – new methods of manufacturing will be required that use much fewer steps and higher yields. We believe that printing of silicon ink is one way to breakthrough such cost barriers,” Burke said. The company has been commended by the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and recently featured on major news outlets such as Discovery Channel and CNN for its technological breakthrough.


corporate | profile The privately-held firm, appropriately based in Sunnyvale, Calif., streamlines the manufacturing process while harnessing the immense power of the sun. The result is solar cells produced at lower temperatures and lower cost. Crystalline silicon solar cell technology accounts for about 86% of the commercial solar panel market today. But solar panels can be costly for most existing and new home buyers. Burke noted the additional benefits of silicon ink technology is that it can be printed using touchless processes that uses less material and thinner substrates. “Compared to conventional processes to make solar cells, much fewer steps are used, so therefore the costs can be reduced dramatically,” he said. Innovalight recently teamed up with JA Solar Holdings Co., Ltd., a manufacturer of high-performance solar products. Using existing solar cell manufacturing lines, JA solar Holdings will produce a new generation of solar cells using silicon ink technology from Innovalight. Burke predicts it will be available on the market by 2010. “The commercial and residential rooftop market is the largest and fastest growing segment,” Burke said, adding that this technology could be incorporated for both commercial and residential applications. Burke explained that his company does not plan to manufacture solar cells and panels, but work with leading solar cell and solar panel manufacturers who are applying Innovalight’s technology to already existing solar manufacturing. Innovalight was founded in 2002 and is venture capital supported. It has received significant development funds from the United States Department of Energy. Since 2002, the company has worked to develop and fine tune its silicon ink technology. Burke was brought into Innovalight in 2005 to completely re-engineer the company. He decided to refocus the company exclusively on the solar sector. “It makes sense to focus only on solar power – it’s where our innovations are the strongest,” he said. The company does not have any significant competitors in this arena, and with over 60 patents protecting their technology, competition isn’t likely to spring up soon. Innovalight’s 2008 PV Incubator program was selected for recognition 4 Energy Leaders Today Winter 2009

by the U.S. Dept. of Energy. The company was also recognized as a technology partner winner at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum held in Davos, Switzerland in 2006. Burke, an Irish immigrant, has a career including research and development, marketing, product management, general management, and operations in major global organizations. Burke was senior vice president of world wide sales and marketing for Bookham Inc. He has a M.S. in Physics from Trinity College, Dublin, and a B.S. in Physics from University College, Dublin,

Ireland. He has also attended The London Business School. Not only is revolutionizing solar energy a good business plan, but Burke notes that it’s good for the planet, too–the technology is emission-free and ecofriendly. Innovalight has already received attention from businesses and individuals who are interested in clean energy. But Burke stressed that, while the new technology is environmentally friendly, he is foremost a capitalist. His goal is to bring low-cost solar energy to the American people and to the global community. The energy infrastructure


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is being rebuilt and Burke’s company is helping lead the way. Burke expects huge profits and returns for his investors, which includes ARCH Venture Partners, Convexa Capital, and Harris & Harris Group, Inc. Burke attributes his company’s success to the high level of expertise amongst its employees. Innovalight is made up of 40 engineers, half of whom are immigrants and half of whom have PhD.s. Five years from now, Burke sees his company producing multi gigawatts of silicon ink and partnering with many solar module manufacturing companies worldwide. For this silicon-valley start-up, success has come strong and its discoveries are attracting attention in the United States and throughout the world. Burke has met with Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Senator John McCain to discuss the need to situate the United States at the forefront of solar technology, a faction which is currently led by Germany. The open forum discussion centered on making visas easier to obtain and changing the perception of the United States to one of premiere status in the solar energy field

6 Energy Leaders Today Winter 2009

– something Innovalight has alrady begun to do on a worldwide scale. “Harnessing the sun’s power means harnessing solar science on a molecular level,” says Burke of his company’s discoveries, which revolve

around manipulating tiny particles of silicon powder. “We’re at the forefront of this technology.” Burke hopes this molecule-sized discovery will have an impact as immense as the sun’s power. PLT


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