Italy: MegaCell to invest EUR 10 million in former Helios cell fab

A group of investors led by Italian bank MedioCredito has signed €3 million deal on behalf of newly launched company MegaCell for the PV production lines of the now defunct Helios Technology.

Recently established by Helios founder Franco Traverso, MegaCell plans to begin manufacturing its new high-efficiency Bifacial Solar n-Type (BiSoN) and monocrystalline silicon n-type cells at the old Helios fab in the northern Italian town of Carmignano di Brenta, located in the region of Veneto, by January, with plans to reach an annual capacity of 80 MW in 2015.

MegaCell is set to invest up to €10 million in the operation, including €6 million to convert the historic industrial site for production of the new cells. The renovation and upgrade of the manufacturing lines are scheduled to take place in the next five months. Traverso estimates an annual revenue of €50 million thereafter.

The company says its new cell is the result of a series of innovations developed and tested by Traverso and the German Research Institute ISC Konstanz, adding that bifacial cells produce energy from both its front and back faces, thus greatly increasing total energy production.

"It can be stated that we are the first in the world to manufacture highly efficient (over 20%) bifacial cells on a large industrial scale," Traverso said. “The photovoltaic industry has been waiting for this event for a long time. Overall energy production from bifacial cells and modules is going to grow even over 30%, and the life of modules will extend to 50 years. It is resulting in a drastic cut of the cost per kilowatt hour of PV generated power. Considering these improvements, we expect demand to exceed our production capacity."

MegaCell says it will target system developers and producers who are looking to increase their systems’ efficiency and profitability.

The company’s new work force will include some 75 former Helios employees (which once numbered more than 160).

Traverso launched Helios Technlogy in 1981 and sold it in 2008. The company was forced into insolvency last year after its parent company, Aion Renewables, was enveloped by financial difficulties.

In 2007, Traverso launched Silfab, followed by Silfab Ontario Inc., a PV module manufacturing plant in Canada with an annual capacity of 150 MW.