After a flurry of activity some years ago, new thin film startup producers have been few and far between. Siva Power is proving to be a significant exception to that rule, with the company raising $5 million from five venture capital firms, to construct an R&D pilot line for its copper indium gallium (di)selenide (CIGS) solar production process.
Siva claims its co-evaporation CIGS technology will deliver "the lowest cost solar panels in the world." Siva says the deposition process can deposit a CIGS semiconductor stack "at high rates over a very large area."
Siva Power deploys a three-stage co-evaporation process followed by, what it terms, monolithic integration (MLI), where the CIGS cells are series-connected via an automated laser scribing. The company has previously picked up funding under the U.S. Department of Energy's Sunshot Initiative.
The pilot line will be installed at its Santa Clara facility, and will produce "small-scale solar panels," while Siva's eventual aim is to deposit CIGS onto a 2m2 glass substrate. By deploying onto a larger substrate than often used by thin film manufacturers, Siva hopes its modules can be used as a drop-in replacement for crystalline silicon panels.
The pilot line will provide Siva Power with the opportunity to demonstrate its technology on a production line and deploy modules in the field – building valuable data for potential investors and the downstream PV sector.
Brad Mattson, Siva Power's CEO, said that the company's technology could be deployed at manufacturing locations in emerging solar markets such as India, Mexico, and Brazil.
"Siva Power can build its first factory in any of these countries and produce panels at half the cost of those made in China," said Mattson. "Not only are locally produced Siva Power panels cheaper, but they also avoid tariffs, shipping costs, and create local jobs."
Siva Power's next step is to develop a 300 MW module line. It says its R&D development line will be suitable for training technical and production teams in the future.
The series D round attracted investment from DBL Partners, Acero, Symmetry Group Ltd., Red House Capital LLC, Banner LLC, and Mattson himself. In 2015, Siva reported that it had raised $10 million to construct its 300 MW fab, from the City of Wuxi in China. Under its former moniker Solexant, the Siva Power team had attempted to commercialize cadmium telluride (CdTe) thin film technology. It rebranded and switched to CIGS in 2013.
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