HelioVolt Claims Solar Efficiency Gains

Austin-based HelioVolt, a provider of thin film solar cells, claimed this morning that it has upped the efficiency of its process, enabling it to rank among the highest performing, solar thin film products on the market today. HelioVolt said it is now producing cells with 12.2 percent conversion efficiency in a process that only takes six minutes. The new process uses Copper Indium Gallium Selenide (CIGS) for producing a solar cells and is in the process of being scaled up for commercial manufacturing, the firm said. The U.S. National Renewable Energy Lab has recently demonstrated 19.9 percent efficiency conversion in the lab using CIGS, but most commercial manufacturers have been struggling to reliably produce cells with greater than 10 percent efficiency. HelioVolt--which is backed with over $180M in venture capital--is one of a number of players developing thin film solar cells, which use less materials than traditional solar cells for the photovoltaic market. Thin film solar is expected to reduce the amount of material--and cost--of developing solar power systems. HelioVolt is backed by Masdar Clean Tech Fund, Paladin Capital Group, Sequel Venture Partners, Noventi Ventures, Solucar Energia, New Enterprise Associates (NEA), Morgan Stanley Principal Investments, Sunton United Energy, Yellowstone Capital and Passport Capital.