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

GT Buys Confluence Solar, Set to Offer Novel Silicon Ingot Technology

Solar equipment maker GT Advanced Technologies bought Confluence Solar for $60 million to become the only provider of a technology that just about every silicon cell maker wants.

Confluence Solar has developed equipment to make monocrystalline silicon ingots at lower costs than the conventional method, GT’s CEO Tom Gutierrez told financial analysts during a conference call Thursday. It’s a type of technology that has the solar world buzzing recently, including GT’s existing customers.

Monocrystalline silicon cells are several percentage points more efficient, but also pricier, than their multicrystalline counterparts. Silicon ingots are materials that are made into wafers, from which solar cells are produced.  The Confluence acquisition enables GT to enter the monocrstalline silicon equipment business. GT already sells equipment for making multicrystalline silicon ingots. 

The interest in this type of solution is extremely high,” Gutierrez said. “We will be the only merchant supplier in the marketplace for some time.”

GT didn’t divulge the details of Confluence’s process, but what it is pursuing is the same as many solar equipment makers: how to make monocrystalline silicon cells more cheaply.

Companies from Suntech Power to JA Solar have been working on making cells from monocrystalline silicon wafers that use a novel concept that has seen its patent expired in recent years, reported the Technology Review. The process, which uses a modified method for making multicrystalline ingots, produces wafers that are mostly monocrystalline in the center but contains multicrystalline around the edges. In July, Suntech, which claims its process can make monocrystalline silicon wafers at roughly the same cost of multicrystalline silicon wafers, launched a solar panel using the new monocrystaline silicon cells. 

Confluence's technology isn't the same as the one Sutech has been pursuing. Instead, Confluence's makes only monocrystalline ingots (without the multicrystalline structure near the edges). GT itself has been developing a process that follows the same concept as the one employed by Suntech. A pure monocrystalline silicon ingot will lead to cells that are still more efficient than cells made with the hybrid ingot, said Jeff Nestel-Patt, a GT spokesman. 

With solar cell prices falling quickly, the pressure is greater than ever for manufacturers to improve their solar cells and panels’ efficiencies in order to set their products. While they are working internally on boosting efficiencies, they have been searching for technologies they can license or buy that will speed up their deployment of more efficient cells and panels. Innovalight, which sells silicon ink, has taken advantage of this trend, and it in turn caught the attention of DuPont, which recently bought Innovalight for an undisclosed amount.

Confluence had developed the technology but had yet to commercialize it when GT bought it. GT, based in New Hampshire, plans to complete a pilot line Confluence started and launch equipment with Confluence’s technology next year, Gutierrez said. Once this new equipment business is up and running, GT expects it to generate $300 million to $400 million in revenues each year, he added.

The acquisition also includes an additional $20 million that GT will pay to Confluence shareholders if certain technical and financial goals are met. Confluence’s private equity investors included Convexa Capital, OCI and Oceanshore Investors. The startup company, founded in 2007, had raised around $23 million to $24 million in venture capital before the acquisition, said David Gray, vice president of strategic development. 

Untitled Document


Sunrise in Pakistan as the Country Delves into Solar PV

Robert Harker Pakistan has joined the list of countries that are exploring solar power as a means to bridge critical energy generat...

Global Renewable Energy Roundup: China, Kenya, Turkey, India Seeking More Renewables

Bloomberg News Editors China is being encouraged by three industry groups to double the nation’s solar-power goal for 2020 to make up for sh...

Why Smarter Grids Demand Smarter Communications Networks

Mark Madden

Historically, utility networks and communications networks have had little in common.

The Importance of “Switching Costs” to the US Residential Solar Industry

Paula Mints The DoE and numerous organizations and governments globally are focused on driving down the cost of solar convinced t...


Array Technologies’ DuraTrack HZ v3 Continues to (R)evolutionize at SPI

Array Technologies, Inc. (ATI) prepares to showcase its recently launched tracking syst...

Appalachian's Energy Center assists counties with landfill gas to energy projects

The Appalachian Energy Center at Appalachian State University recently completed a proj...

Early Bird Registration Deadline for GRC Annual Meeting is This Week

The deadline for early-bird rates for registration for the biggest annual geothermal ev...

Redesigned Video Gallery

Hydropower news and information, and interesting promotional announcements are now avai...


Transitioning to Net-Zero Living

Judith and Jeffrey adore living in Belfast, Maine – a quaint harbor town of Belfast, Maine. They previously res...

The True Cost of Electric Vehicles in Australia

In order to avoid increased congestion, further greenhouse warming and lessen Australia’s reliance on imported ...

The Coming Multi-trillion Dollar Energy Investment Drive

In coming years, a multi-trillion dollar low-emission energy investment drive will get underway. Three catalysts wil...

The Perfect Elevator Pitch

The elevator pitch is a concise statement that grabs attention and communicates value, ideally leading to a next step...


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! @jennrunyon



Intersolar North America 2016

Exhibition: July 12 - 14, 2016; Conference: July 11 - 13, 2016 Intersola...

Intersolar South America 2015

Exhibition and Conference: September 1-3, 2015 Intersolar South America ...

Intersolar Europe 2016

Exhibition: June 22-24, 2016; Conference: June 21-22, 2016 Intersolar Eu...


Less Is More

When you’re giving a presentation, one of the easiest things to do...


One of the biggest challenges we face as efficiency sales professionals ...

How To Optimize Your Meeting Schedule

Do you spend more time in meetings than you do actually working? While m...


Renewable Energy: Subscribe Now

Solar Energy: Subscribe Now

Wind Energy: Subscribe Now

Geothermal Energy: Subscribe Now

Bioenergy: Subscribe Now