The World's #1 Renewable Energy Network for News, Information, and Companies.
Untitled Document

Good Timing: What DuPont Gains By Buying Innovalight

DuPont's acquisition of Innovalight, announced Monday, comes at an opportune time. The price of solar energy components and panels are falling quickly, and manufacturers are scrambling to cut costs in order to compete effectively. To do so, they are devoting more resources to technologies that can help them boost efficiencies more quickly than what they could come up with.

Innovalight has been taking advantage of that intensified competition, and its ability to line up some of the biggest solar cell makers in the world no doubt made it an attractive acquisition target for DuPont.

Innovalight, based in Sunnyvale, Calif., licenses the know-how of using its silicon ink to the solar cell production process. The company also sells the silicon ink, which has gotten accolades such as a R&D Magazine’s Top 100 innovation award. 

“We see a great opportunity in this (market) climate we are in,” said Conrad Burke, former CEO of Innovalight and now the general manager of the newly created DuPont Innovalight. “The thrust is to improve conversion efficiencies and to improve the overall cost structure. That’s the proposition that DuPont and Innovalight will bring together."                                                                    

DuPont declined to disclose the purchase price.

Silicon wafers deposited with its nano-size particles could boost the efficiency of monocrystalline silicon solar cells by an average of 0.8 percentage point,  Burke said. The company’s announced customers include Yingli Green Energy, JA Solar, Motech and JinkoSolar.

Founded in 2002, Innovalight has received about $6.4 million in two federal grants to support its technology development. The company considered being a cell maker, but ditched the idea when the financial market tanked in late 2008. The licensing model seems to have served it well, particularly in the age of declining pricing and gross margin for solar cell and panel makers. 

Monocrystalline silicon solar cells typically get around 17.5 percent efficiency these days, while the multicrystalline variety achieves 15-16 percent, Burke said.

The technology works for both mono- and multicrystalline silicon cells, but it yields a greater improvement for monocrystalline silicon cells, Burke said.  He said the company’s technology is compatible with an emerging technology that produces a wafer with a section of pure monocrystalline silicon structure and a section with mixed mono- and multicrystalline silicon. The technology is supposed to make it possible to produce more efficient mono-crystalline wafers at the cost of crystalline silicon wafers. Suntech Power recently announced the commercialization of this technology, though it’s one of many companies — including JA Solar — that are developing it by using a patent that expired a few years ago.

DuPont already is a big player in the solar market. It’s known for its encapsulants and other materials for protecting solar cells from moisture and other environmental damage. The company also sells pastes for forming the metal lines that ferry electrons out of solar cells. Since Innovalight’s silicon ink comes in contact with the metal pastes during production, DuPont wants to work on optimizing both so that when they are used together, they can increase cell efficiencies at greater rates, said Rob Cockerill, business manager of DuPont Innovalight.

DuPont generated over $1 billion in revenue from its solar products in 2010, and it expects to reach $2 billion by 2014.

Burke declined to divulge the silicon ink production volumes or its efficiency-gain roadmap. Innovalight previously talked about pushing the cell efficiency to over 20 percent by 2012. DuPont, too, promises that using its products (not just the silicon ink) will deliver 20 percent cell efficiency in the next two years, Cockerill said.

Innovalight served the the silicon solar market before being bought by DuPont, and that focus will continue now that it’s part of DuPont. Burke said there is no plan to target the thin film solar market in which alternative materials, such as cadmium-telluride and copper-indium-gallium-selenide are used instead of silicon.

“We will focus on the biggest market opportunity,” Burke said.

The majority of solar cells made today use silicon, and during Intersolar North America earlier this month, some silicon players sounded confident that the trend will continue in the next 10 years. 

Untitled Document


Welspun Commissions 52-MW Solar Power Plant in India

Vince Font Leading Indian solar developer Welspun Renewables has commissioned the construction of a massive solar plant in the state of Maharashtra. The planned 52-megawatt (MW) solar plant will be located in the city of Baramati. The...

Regional News from the July/August 2015 Digital Edition of Renewable Energy World

Renewable Energy World Editors EcoFasten Solar announced that it launched a new mounting "Rock-It System" that it would be displaying during Intersolar. Product compliance was determined through testing per UL Subject 2703, which reviews integr...

SkyPower Inks $2.2 Billion Deal for Massive Solar Power Plant in Kenya

Eric Ombok, Bloomberg Kenya’s Energy Ministry and SkyPower Global Ltd. will sign a $2.2 billion agreement on Sunday that paves the way for the Canadian company to develop a 1-gigawatt solar project in East Africa’s biggest economy. The solar pro...

Making a Match: How Solar Companies and Banks Hook Up

Jennifer Runyon The announcements are fairly frequent: SunPower Partners with Admirals Bank for $200 Million Solar Loan Program, Deutsche Bank to Lend $1 Billion for Japanese Solar Projects, Financing Partnerships Drive North Carolina's So...
Ucilia Wang is a California-based freelance journalist who writes about renewable energy. She previously was the associate editor at Greentech Media and a staff writer covering the semiconductor industry at Red Herring. In addition to Renewable En...


Volume 18, Issue 4


To register for our free
e-Newsletters, subscribe today:


Tweet the Editors! @megcichon @jennrunyon



Presenting at Infocast's Utility Scale Solar Summit 2015

Oct. 21, 2015 4:30-5:15pm Albie Fong, National Director, Solar Frontier ...

Utility Scale Solar Summit 2015

Oct. 21, 2015 4:30-5:15pm Albie Fong, National Director, Solar Frontier ...

5th Annual Hydro Plant Maintenance

Join maintenance professionals to discuss the challenges in maintenance ...


Behind Every Good Decision

When something about your business isn’t working, you set out to c...

Clean Energy Patents Maintain High Levels in First Quarter, Solar L...

U.S. patents for Clean Energy technologies from the first quarter of 201...

An Overwhelming Paradox

I’m sure we’re all very familiar with the feeling of being o...


Renewable Energy: Subscribe Now

Solar Energy: Subscribe Now

Wind Energy: Subscribe Now

Geothermal Energy: Subscribe Now

Bioenergy: Subscribe Now