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23 January 2008


LCA increases stake in QuantaSol to 25.6%

Low Carbon Accelerator Ltd (LCA) has invested a further £320,000 in solar cell maker QuantaSol Ltd, increasing its total equity ownership to 25.6%.

LCA invested £480,000 in June 2007 as part of an overall £1.35m seed funding round of the Imperial College London spin-off, co-led by LCA and Imperial Innovations and joined by Numis Securities Ltd, Netscientific Ltd, and Sheffield University Enterprise.

Since the initial investment, QuantaSol has exceeded the milestones that were set, says LCA’s chief investment officer Dr Stephen Mahon.

QuantaSol aims to provide photovoltaic (PV) cells for use in concentrating photovoltaic (CPV) systems for the fast-growing utility-scale solar power generation market.

Quantasol used the original funds to produce prototypes of its quantum well photovoltaic (QWPV) cells and to engage with potential customers. It will use the additional funds to continue their product development.

CPV systems use relatively inexpensive optics such as mirrors or lenses to concentrate or focus light from a broad collection area onto a much smaller area of active semiconductor PV cell material. Since the PV semiconductor material usually dominates the costs of a solar PV system, reducing the amount of PV material required to capture a given amount of sunlight leads to substantially lower system cost and cost per watt of output.

QuantaSol’s third-generation cells are based on gallium arsenide plus other semiconductor materials. Although the materials are more expensive than the silicon commonly used for flat-panel PV cells, QuantaSol plans to manufacture single- and multi-junction concentrator solar cells with efficiency levels of up to 40% (compared to below 20% for silicon and thin-film cells).

Currently, the world efficiency record for single-junction cells, held by US firm Varian, stands at 27.8% and has been unequalled for 20 years. However, Quantasol’s cells are consistently recording efficiency levels of 27.5%, and the management team says they are confident of reaching levels equal to or in excess of the world record during 2008.

“The world record for solar efficiency was a real one-off and our results consistently come very close to equalling that. With the new round of funding in place we are confident of setting a new efficiency record for single-junction cells during 2008,” says CEO Kevin Arthur. “The quantum wells also make it possible to enhance the efficiency of multi-junction cells and, during 2008, QuantaSol also aims to set a record 35% tandem cell efficiency,” he adds.

“The market for CPV is enormous, and, if they can show their cells are the world's most efficient, QuantaSol looks poised to take full advantage of it,” concludes Mahon.

See related items:

Rochester’s NanoPower Research Labs receive $3.2m in PV funding

GreenVolts raises $10m in Series A funding

Wakonda named Clean Energy Entrepreneur of the Year and awarded $900,000 DOE funding

Emcore receives record concentrator photovoltaic cell order

Emcore claims record efficiency for volume-production, multi-junction solar cell aimed at terrestrial applications

Start-up QuantaSol generates £1.35m investment for GaAs-based photovoltaic cells

Search: Photovoltaic GaAs Concentrator solar cells