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9 October 2008


Hydro raises stake in Ascent Solar to 35%

Norsk Hydro ASA of Oslo, Norway (one of the world’s leading suppliers of aluminum), through its subsidiary Norsk Hydro Produksjon AS, has exercized an option to purchase additional shares in Ascent Solar Technologies Inc of Littleton, CO, USA, a developer of flexible thin-film photovoltaic modules based on copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS).

The option was granted to Hydro and approved by Ascent's shareholders in June 2007. Hydro now holds about 35% of the total outstanding common shares and about 35% of the total outstanding Class B warrants of Ascent. Hydro had previously invested $10.48m in August 2007 to raise its stake to 23%. The firm has now invested a total of about $63m in Ascent.

Gross proceeds from the follow-on investment are about $15m, and reflect a per-share purchase price equal to the average of the closing bid, as reported by Nasdaq, for the five consecutive trading days preceding exercise.

“Ascent has developed a unique technology for the production of super-thin and flexible solar cell modules that are well suited for integration in building systems,” says Einar Glomnes, head of Hydro’s solar business unit. “As Hydro is a major supplier of [aluminum-based] building systems in Europe, the partnership with Ascent is strategically important,” he adds.

“We are encouraged by Hydro’s continued support and confidence in Ascent Solar's technologies, products and people,” says Ascent’s interim president & CEO Dr Mohan Misra. “We intend to use these proceeds to support our continued progress toward our manufacturing milestones as we ramp to commercialization.”

As Ascent heads into the manufacturing phase of its development, in late September Misra (who was chairman since October 2005 and chief strategy officer since April 2007) replaced departing president & CEO Matthew Foster (who continues in a consultant capacity for one year, focusing on global expansion and business development). A permanent replacement for Foster is being sought.

“Ascent Solar is transitioning from a research and development company to a manufacturing and commercially focused organization,” said Foster. “I am pleased to have been the leader of Ascent Solar during this initial stage, and I felt that new leadership would be better at leading Ascent Solar’s next phase of growth, where operational and manufacturing expertise will be critical,” he added.

“We thank Matt for his outstanding leadership during Ascent Solar’s early and formative years,” stated Misra. “Under his watch, Ascent Solar has grown quickly from a private start-up company to a publicly traded company with a well-defined manufacturing and sales strategy.”

Prior to Ascent, Misra was founder and CEO since 1994 of ITN Energy Systems Inc (ITN), which developed Ascent’s CIGS technology before it was licensed to Ascent.

Ascent hires chief marketing officer

Ascent Solar has just appointed Bruce Berkoff to the newly created executive role of chief marketing officer.

Berkoff has over 25 years of executive experience in engineering, product development and marketing for technology companies. Prior to joining Ascent, Berkoff was chief marketing officer of LG.Philips LCD, one of the world's largest TFT LCD suppliers. He is currently on the boards of directors of LG Display and Unipixel, and serves as chairman of the LCD TV Association. Berkoff was CEO of Enuclia Semiconductor, chief marketing officer and executive VP at LPL, VP & general manager at Philips Components FDS, and has held various other executive positions. He holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from Princeton and University of California Berkeley, respectively.

“He brings extensive experience in growing a high-tech company in a rapidly expanding and highly competitive environment,” says Misra. “Bruce’s visionary insights and proven leadership in development of international business will further enable us to strengthen and develop additional strategic partnerships as we work to complete the installation of our initial 30MW production facility and our subsequent planned expansions.”

Ascent and Texsa cooperate

In late September, Ascent Solar signed a definitive cooperation agreement to develop new building integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) roofing materials based on the existing product lines (protective roofing and thermal insulating boards) of Texsa S.A. of Spain, targeting the European marketplace.

Ascent intends to initially supply product from its existing 1.5MW production line for Texsa to develop, test and certify integrated BIPV products, and then to increase deliveries of solar modules to Texsa after its planned production capacity expansion. Subsequent demonstration-scale projects are envisioned to validate the system-level performance and to develop market demand for the jointly developed BIPV roofing products.

“Spain offers an attractive business environment for photovoltaic roofing, including a high level of incentives for distributed generation BIPV solutions,” says Joseph McCabe, Ascent’s VP of business development. “The combination of expertise between Ascent Solar and Texsa will provide the best energy-generating photovoltaic roofing solution for commercial success in the Iberia, France and Italian markets,” claims Texsa’s director general Josep M Sala.

See related items:

Ascent Solar considers accelerating CIGS PV capacity ramp

AFRL awards Ascent $1.5m multi-junction PV contract

Thin-film solar market to reach 9GW in 2012

Ascent Solar closes $61m public offering

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