Natcore Technology Acquires Vanguard Solar

One month after announcing the formation of a joint venture in China to produce equipment and materials for use in making solar cells, Natcore Technology Inc. has executed a letter of intent to purchase Vanguard Solar, Inc., a private firm focused on the development of a flexible, thin-film photovoltaic material potentially capable of silicon solar cell-like efficiency.

Vanguard employs a proprietary chemical bath process similar to Natcore’s liquid phase deposition (LPD) technology, although Vanguard is growing II-VI compound semiconductor thin films on carbon nanotubes at room temperature and ambient pressure, while Natcore has thus far concentrated on producing solar cells by growing silicon dioxide films on silicon substrates.

The first-generation products from Vanguard’s method could produce 15%-16% efficiencies at module costs of 60 cents to 70 cents per watt. It is anticipated that second-generation technology could achieve 20% efficiencies at even lower costs per watt. The investment for production facilities is projected as low as $10 million to $15 million per 100-megawatt to 150-megawatt production capability, as compared with current costs of as much as $250 million for standard solar-cell production facilities.

Vanguard’s production equipment would be designed for insertion into an existing roll-to-roll film-coating line of the sort that has been displaced by the emergence of digital photography. All production materials are widely available and dramatically cheaper than silicon and other thin film systems.

If successfully developed, the process would enable a very cost-efficient production capability in large-scale facilities. As consideration for the purchase of Vanguard Solar, Natcore has agreed to issue Vanguard shareholders common shares of Natcore Technology, subject to the approval of the TSX Venture Exchange. Specific terms of the transaction will be provided upon closing of the acquisition.

“We are particularly excited about this acquisition because it represents another compelling outgrowth of Prof. Barron’s foundational work in chemical processes that mimic materials growth in nature,” says Chuck Provini, Natcore’s president and CEO. “In fact, our company name, a combination of ‘nature’ and ‘core,’ was chosen to reflect this synthesis of natural processes–like the growth of an abalone shell– that grow extraordinary materials in widely varied environments. By employing ultra-pure chemicals and modern materials science, Prof. Barron has been able to combine the best of man and nature.”

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