Greatcell Solar has been placed into voluntary administration after failing to recapitalize. The former Dyesol had pivoted from dye-sensitised PV developer had pivoted to perovskites in recent years, but had failed to commercialise its technology.
“The decision follows a series of unfortunate and unwelcome developments in recent weeks, including the untimely death of chief scientist Dr Hans Desilvestro in a mountaineering accident on 10 November,” Greatcell said in a statement to the ASX.
Noting that its directors believe they had exhausted all known options for the survival of the company in its current structure, Greatcell Solar announced the appointment of BRI Ferrier as administrators.
“The Directors apologise unreservedly to all stakeholders for failing to have the technology sufficiently developed to make it a compelling investment case at this timer,” the statement reads, adding that the outlook for shareholders is uncertain at best.
The administrators have been appointed for Greatcell Solar Ltd, Greatcell Solar Industries Pty Ltd and Greatcell Solar Australia Pty Ltd.
As for its 50% subsidiary, Greatcell Solar Materials, a manufacturer of specialty chemicals, the company directors believe it will not be affected by these developments.
Greatcell’s shares have been suspended since the end of February, while the company tried to secure long-term funding for the establishment of a Major Area Demonstration (MAD) prototype facility co-located at CSIRO in Clayton, Victoria.
Described as a critical validation step towards successful commercialisation, the MAD project valued at $25 million was expected to be funded with a mix of equity investment and government grants.
But, despite all the efforts it put in the global search for funding, Greatcell was not able to attract sufficient investment. The situation exacerbated when Saudi industrial group National Industrialization Company (Tasnee), its strategic shareholder, informed the company it was not in a financial position to offer further financial backing back the company.
Striving towards its goal was to achieve an advanced, pre-commercialisation status for its third generation photovoltaic technology, Greatcell Solar has attracted considerable investment and government funding.
A total of $6 million was allocated by the the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) to assist in developing a prototype facility with an eye on the fabrication of high quality, large area, current generation and next generation perovskite devices, as a prerequisite to large scale manufacture.
The funding for the project dubbed ‘Perovskite Solar Cell Technology – Large Area Module Development Project’ followed ARENA’s earlier grant of $450,000 for Greatcell to prove perovskite solar cells were both efficient and stable, confirming the potential viability and cost-competitiveness of developing them for commercial-scale manufacture.
Last year, the company received another major financial boost involving a $2.5 million grant in support of a project entitled ‘Large Area Perovskite Photovoltaic Material Coating on Glass Substrate’ administered by the Australian Department of Industry.
However, it appears that these these funding lines were not easy to reach. In its ASX statement, Greatcell says its funding model has been adversely affected due to highly conditional access to available government assistance because of increasing amounts of ‘red-tape’ and changes to ATO R&D rebate entitlement that disregard previously accepted methodologies.
Another obstacle was the federal government energy policy settings that are unsupportive of renewable energy investment, the company said, adding that this has made access to the Australian equity capital markets for renewable energy technology companies very challenging.
Greatcell’s achievements had perviously been recognized worldwide. China’s PV manufacturer JinkoSolar was among those who had high hopes for Greatcell. Last year, the two companies signed a non-exclusive MoU based on which Jinko was given access to the company’s developmental perovskite solar cells, with a long term goal to strike a formal agreement to commercialize the technology and establish large scale manufacturing.