A company involved in solar energy has received $14 million in equity funding to expand its work.
PRINCETON, New Jersey – Energy Photovoltaics, Inc. (EPV) received the money from an investor group comprised of CHI Energy, Inc. of Stamford, Connecticut; Integrated Electrical Services, Inc. of Houston, Texas; and MVV Energie AG of Mannheim, Germany. With the investment, the group has acquired a controlling interest in EPV. The proceeds will be used to commercialize the thin-film manufacturing processes for solar photovoltaic (PV) modules that has been developed by the Princeton, New Jersey company. It will also expand marketing and sales activities, and enhance the company’s research and development program. “The production and aggressive development of EPV’s thin-film photovoltaic processes will mean cheaper, more efficient solar power,” says Robert Kelly, the new vice chairman. Kelly comes from Enron, where he led the creation of Enron’s solar energy division. EPV says the investment positions the company in cost-effective thin-film PV technologies at a time when solar electricity “is seen as a vital weapon to reduce greenhouse gases from fossil fuel- based electric generation, and to create renewable energy sources of power amid increasing concern about the supply and costs of traditional energy” in the U.S. and abroad. The process developed by EPV involves the production of PV modules by coating specially prepared glass with semiconductor materials that use proprietary manufacturing techniques. Compared with traditional crystalline and polycrystalline silicon- based processes, the company claims its method is significantly less expensive, modular and scalable, which creates a cost- effective approach to increase the growth rate for PV. “World energy projections show a dramatic increase in demand for photovoltaic sources to address heightening environmental concerns and rural electrification,” explains James Groelinger, the new CEO of the company. “EPV is in the race to produce economically competitive photovoltaics, and with this funding the company will be in a position to win it.” The investment complements the work of its investor members, which are involved in renewable energy production and electrical services. “The investors were attracted to the technical, financial and operational opportunities available to them through EPV, especially during a time when the reduction of fossil-fuel based energy is being called for by world health leaders and policies such as the Kyoto Protocol,” says Groelinger. EPV was formed in 1991 to develop and commercialize proprietary technologies and systems to manufacture thin-film PV modules. Its research has focused on amorphous silicon (a-Si) and the advanced copper/indium/gallium/diselenide thin-film materials. Its mission is to manufacture PV modules that are cost competitive with utility generated electricity. Its work on the fourth generation of a-Si manufacturing technology produces glass-to-glass encapsulated modules that generate 40 watts of power from solar radiation. CHI Energy was founded in 1985 and is involved in the development and operation of renewable energy facilities. Last month, it was acquired by Erga S.pA of Italy, a subsidiary of the world’s largest publicly listed electric utility, making the new company the largest renewable energy company in the world. Integrated Electrical Services is involved in electrical contracting and communications, while MVV Energie develops renewable energy projects in many European countries. The utility acquired control of SEO-Solar, a PV company in Germany that will work with EPV to develop the first industrial CIGS manufacturing facility in Germany this year. Each of the investing companies will be represented on EPV’s board.