Nanosolar

Company Background

Nanosolar is a leading manufacturer of cost-efficient thin film solar cells and panels. They utilize an ‘industrial’ printing process to coat CIGS (Copper, Indium, Gallium, Selenium) and nanoparticle inks on low-cost aluminum foil in order to enable the industry’s lowest-cost solar cells and solar panels. With headquarters and solar cell manufacturing based in San Jose, California, and an automated panel assembly facility outside Berlin, Germany, Nanosolar is building an effective global distribution network to deliver cost-efficient solar power.  Their goal is a planet powered by clean, abundant and renewable solar energy – affordable for everyone and to make solar energy the lowest cost electricity through innnovation and large scale deployment (1a).

The company debuted its Nanosolar Utility Panel in 2009. The thin-film panel was the industry's first solar electricity panel to be used in a utility-scale solar power system setting. The product can handle voltage 50% higher than previously certified systems, and its dual-tempered glass is stronger than conventional thin-film-on-glass panels (2).

Suppliers and Buyers

EDF Energies Nouvelles buys solar panels from Nanosolar (2).

Strategic Partnerships

Nanosolar has received financial backing from the likes of Benchmark Capital, EDF Energies Nouvelles, AES Solar (part of AES Corporation), Mohr Davidow Ventures, and Energy Capital Partners. Other investors include The Carlyle Group, OnPoint Technologies, and Swiss Reinsurance Company (2).  OnPoint was created by the U.S. Department of Defense to invest in technologies that could benefit the U.S. Army. Nanosolar recently completed a 1-megawatt installation in California that was part of a technology testing program at the defense department (3).

The company teamed up with SunLink to develop and supply a custom, flat roof mounting system for the utility-grade panels. The lightweight system was designed intentionally to reduce the number of materials and tools needed for installation, thus giving it a faster set-up time and a far lower cost than conventional systems. The mounting system was developed as part of the US Department of Energy's Solar America Initiative. The two companies collaborated for more than two years to create the system, which became available commercially in 2010 (2).

Innovation and Technology

Nanosolar's has invented a printing press that applies nanoparticle ink to the foil used in solar cells. The machine can churn enough solar cells (100 feet per minute) to produce 1,000 MW per year, which is equivalent to the output of a nuclear reactor (2).

Nanosolar has achieved 17.1% efficiency on laboratory devices, certified by NREL, which shows the potential of their technology to compete with the efficiency of crystalline silicon panels in the next several years.  Moreover, the Nanosolar Utility Panel’s innovative design significantly reduces balance-of-system costs through less mounting hardware, electrical cabling and installation labor (1b).

Products

  • Nanosolar Utility Panel
  • Thin film solar cells
  • Proprietary inks (1c).

For more information, see the Nanosolar location page.

Sources

  1. Nanosolar (2012). Retrieved on November 8, 2012
    1. “Company Overview” from www.nanosolar.com/company/company-overview
    2. “Technology Overview” from www.nanosolar.com/technology/technology-overview
    3. “Nanosolar FAQ” from www.nanosolar.com/resources/nanosolar-faq
  2. Hoover’s, Inc. (2012). “Nanosolar, Inc.” Retrieved on November 8, 2012.
  3. Forbes.com LLC (2012, June 1). “Nanosolar Raises $70M To Survive Tough Times.” Retrieved on November 8, 2012 from www.forbes.com/sites/uciliawang/2012/06/01/nanosolar-raises-70m-to-survive-tough-times/