22 June 2010


Ascent-led team wins DARPA contract for low-cost portable PVs

Ascent Solar Technologies Inc (ASTI) of Thornton, CO, USA, which manufactures flexible thin-film photovoltaic modules based on copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS), says that the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has selected its team for an award under the Low-Cost Lightweight Portable Photovoltaics (PoP) solicitation.

The 54-month ASTI-led program ‘Flexible High-performance Tandem-junction PV Array’ consists of three gated phases, the first of which is 18 months and has a contract value of about $3.8m. The goal of PoP is to demonstrate low-cost, lightweight photovoltaics (PV) that can stand up to battle conditions and environmental extremes while delivering a power conversion efficiency of 20% or greater by the end of the program.

ASTI leads a team of program partners comprising small businesses (ITN Energy Systems Inc of Littleton, CO, Cambrios Technologies Company of Sunnyvale, CA, Brewer Science of Rolla, MO), a large business (QinetiQ North America’s Technology Solutions Group of Boston, MA) and academia (Institute of Energy Conversion (IEC) of Newark, DE) to leverage their collective expertise with dedicated funding from DARPA to meet the highly aggressive goals of the PoP program. ASTI is one of four firms — together with CIGS PV module maker Global Solar Energy, Infinite Power Solutions and Microsat Systems — spun off from ITN Energy Systems, which was founded in 1994 by Dr Mohan Misra (after working for more than 20 years in the aerospace industry) to bring aerospace know-how to the commercial marketplace.

“In order to meet the aggressive goals of performance, capacity, and military toughness, our team has put together a definitive plan that combines our flexible CIGS production experience and existing MILSTD 810G military product, advanced high-temperature substrates from QinetiQ, the combined expertise in multi-junction thin-film technology from ASTI and IEC, films for optical and electrical enhancement from Brewer and Cambrios, and enhanced packaging technologies being developed by ITN and ASTI,” says Ascent’s president & CEO Farhad Moghadam. “The outcome of the program dovetails nicely with our existing technology improvement pathway for our flexible thin-film monolithically integrated CIGS-based PV modules at 20% module efficiency for the Department of Defense (DoD),” he adds.

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