MiaSolé sold for US$30 million


Despite the rapid development of its technology and bullish sentiment expressed earlier in the year, roll-to-roll CIGS manufacturer MiaSolé announced in August that it was reorganizing its manufacturing operations and looking for a partner. In what appears a sign that company’s financials were in a dire state, documents obtained by the San Francisco Chronicle show that MiaSole is set to be sold for only US$30 million. The company has raised around $500 million in VC funding since 2004.

Neither Hanergy nor MiaSole have commented publically on the deal and pv magazine has contacted both companies for clarification and comment.

In July of this year, when pv magazine visited the MiaSolé operations in Santa Clara, California, Rich Hossfeld, the vice president of global business development and sales, reported that the fab in Silicon Valley was producing its CIGS modules for under $0.80/W, with a roadmap to achieve under $0.50/W over the next five years. It was producing modules with an average efficiency of 14%, which it hoped to increase to 18%, also over five years. However it appears that despite the impressive technology achievements, that sales could not fund the company’s continuing operations.

In terms of process, after the deposition of the CIGS semiconductor stack onto the 50-micron thick stainless-steel substrate, MiaSolé then cuts it into cells, which are in turn shingled together in groups of 88 cells. The cells are placed between glass and the module is finished in the back end of the production process.

One advantage of the MiaSolé process, according to Hossfeld, was CAPEX could be kept to a low $0.50/W. The current MiaSolé fab has a capacity of 150 MW, and it has 50 MW in the field. The biggest MiaSolé installation is a 11.1 MW array in Germany, which was installed by juwi.

MiaSolé was also developing a flexible-module, which was on display in the company’s boardroom in July, and this may be where Hanergy sees real value. The product had not yet been brought to market, but had efficiencies far in advance of what flexible rivals such as Global Solar had been able to achieve.

Hanergy has been showing faith in thin film of late, having signed an agreement to acquire Q-Cells CIGS thin film subsidiary Solibro in June. In September it announced a deal to supply IKEA with a thin film solar system solution in the UK, presumably using the Solibro products manufactured in Germany. While Solibro employs a vastly different deposition technology than MiaSolé, the two acquisitions could be seen as an attempt by the company to invest in the photovoltaic space, in a strategic way, by selecting CIGS thin film technology.

The San Francisco Chronicle has reported that the MiaSolé acquisition will result in no employees being laid off for a year after the deal closes.