BY ANDREW BURGER
Swimming Against the TideSemprius is opening its CPV plant amidst a general backdrop of solar energy market and industry turmoil, manufacturing plant slowdowns, shutdowns, and layoffs — both in the US and other other major solar-producing countries, including Germany and China. Management and its investors believe that the combination of high-efficiency and low-cost production will prove the company viable in a fiercely competitive global solar PV market that governments around the world have targeted as a low-carbon, green economy growth engine.
“Semprius’ modules are the most efficient in the world and ‘very price competitive’ with rivals such as First Solar Inc. (FSLR) and SunPower Corp. (SPWR), among others,” Bloomberg quoted Semprius CEO Joe Carr as saying. “In very high brightness areas where we do our best work, we’re highly competitive.” Carr declined to discuss cost details.
A SunShot CPV Manufacturer Ready to Go Commercial
Semprius received initial seed funding from the DOE under President Obama’s “SunShot Incubator” program, refining and proving its technology with NREL in Golden. NREL validated Semprius’ tiny, dot-sized CPV cells as having an energy conversion efficiency of 41% at a concentration of 1,000 suns.
In its search for a location to build a manufacturing plant to commercialize its CPV cells and modules, Semprius landed in Henderson, NC. Construction of its 50,000-square-foot plant began earlier this year, with the state government and local agencies contributing $7.9 million towards construction.
Semprius’ patented micro-transfer printing process allows thousands of its concentrated solar PV cells (CPV) to be transferred from a growth substrate to a semiconductor wafer or other form factor. It’s a continuous, massive parallel process that runs continuously and allows the growth substrate to be used repeatedly, which cuts costs dramatically, according to NREL and Semprius.