Meyer Burger, Oxford PV sign perovskite cooperation deal

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According to the initial agreement, Oxford PV — which was established nine years ago as a spin-off from the University of Oxford — will pair Swiss solar equipment supplier Meyer Burger’s HJT and SmartWire Connection (SWCTTM) technologies with its perovskite solar cells. Meyer Burger will provide a 200 MW HJT manufacturing line for the pilot production of tandem cells by the end of next year for Oxford PV’s facility in Brandenburg an der Havel, Germany.

As part of the deal, Meyer Burger will acquire a stake of up to 18.8% in Oxford PV by issuing as many as 62.29 million new Meyer Burger registered shares from its existing authorized capital, to up to 9.99% of the company’s currently listed share capital. The stake acquisition will make Meyer Burger the biggest shareholder of Oxford PV.

The Thun-based equipment supplier will also have the option to eventually raise its stake to 31.6% of the capital and 24% of the voting rights in Oxford PV. Meyer Burger CEO will also take a seat on Oxford PV’s board of directors. The two sides aim to finalize the deal by the end of April.

For the initial phase of the project in Brandenburg an der Havel, the two companies will aim for a 27% efficiency target. Meyer Burger will also produce equipment to facilitate the mass production of the perovskite layers, which are deposited onto HJT bottom cells.

Oxford PV has developed perovskite tandem solar cells utilizing bottom cells of crystalline silicon. Its cells achieved an efficiency of 28% last year, as certified by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

“Such tandem devices use the higher energy blue part of the solar spectrum more effectively, allowing a theoretical efficiency limit of 43% compared to 29% for traditional single-junction silicon-based solar cells,” Meyer Burger said of its new partner’s technology in an online statement. “The characteristics of Meyer Burger’s HJT cells make them the perfect bottom cells for Oxford PV’s perovskite top cell layers.”

As part of the announcement, Meyer Burger also revealed that it posted a net loss of roughly $59.8 million in 2018, on net sales of approximately $409.96 million. It recorded incoming orders of $329.1 million last year, bringing its total order backlog to about $242.2 million by the end of December.

“It is difficult to predict 2019, due to political uncertainties, such as trade tariffs, energy policies and new Chinese subsidy policies which have not yet been released,” the company said.

Earlier this week, Meyer Burger revealed that it had secured a $15 million order for its MAiA 6.1 PERC cell production equipment. It did not identify the customer, other than to describe it as a “a leading PV module manufacturer” based in Asia.

Also this week, Oxford PV raised about $40.79 million from the first portion of a Series D funding round aimed at bringing its core technologies to market. Investors in the financing round included Chinese wind power group Goldwind.