12 January 2010


Spire authorized for Phase II of NREL CPV contract

Spire Corp of Bedford, MA, USA, which provides capital equipment and turnkey production lines for manufacturing photovoltaic (PV) cells and modules, says that its epiwafer foundry subsidiary Spire Semiconductor LLC of Hudson, NH has completed Phase I of its High Efficiency Concentrator Solar Cell program with the US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), and has been notified that NREL will authorize Phase II.

Under the 18-month, $3.7m subcontract awarded in April 2009 (consisting of $2.96m in government funding and a $745,000 cost share), Spire Semiconductor is developing technology to cost-effectively manufacture 42%-efficient, 500-sun, III-V triple-junction tandem concentrator photovoltaic (CPV) cells.

Spire Semiconductor has now passed through the NREL Stage Gate Review, a go/no-go decision point to validate progression of the project and assure that progress meets contract objectives. These objectives include estimates of key performance parameters of competitive levelized cost of energy (LCOE); annual manufacturing capacity potential; direct manufacturing cost; and cell mean-time-between-failure (MTBF). During Phase I, PV cell performances of greater than 39% efficiency were achieved.

“It validates our efforts toward developing a proprietary gallium arsenide (GaAs) concentrator solar cell that exceeds anything commercially available,” says Spire’s chairman & CEO Roger G. Little.

“The PV industry will continue to grow significantly this year and well into the future,” reckons Little. “CPV systems offer many advantages. With Spire’s strong position in the solar industry, the availability of our custom GaAs concentrator will put us in a good position to help our customers meet this market demand,” he concludes.

See related item:

Spire awarded $3.7m NREL program to develop 42%-efficient CPVs

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