13 May 2010


LPD firm Natcore agrees acquisition of II-VI-on-CNT solar firm Vanguard

After signing a letter of intent at the end of March, Natcore Technology Inc of Red Bank, NJ, USA has executed a formal share purchase agreement with all of the security holders of Vanguard Solar Inc of Sudbury, MA, USA, a private firm controlling key solar energy intellectual property. Closing of the acquisition is expected soon, subject to approval of the TSX Venture Exchange.

Vanguard has focused on developing a flexible, thin-film photovoltaic material capable of silicon-like conversion efficiency, potentially at one-tenth the manufacturing cost and one-twentieth the capital investment. The firm employs a proprietary chemical bath process similar to Natcore’s liquid phase deposition (LPD) technology, which it has licensed exclusively from Rice University. However, Vanguard has grown II-VI compound semiconductor thin films on carbon nanotubes (CNTs) at room temperature and ambient pressure, while Natcore has so far concentrated on growing silicon dioxide films on silicon substrates.

First-generation products from Vanguard’s method could produce 15–16% efficiencies at module costs of 60–70 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 to be as little as $10–15m per 100–150MW of production capability, compared with current costs of as much as $250m for standard solar-cell production facilities, it is reckoned. 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 much cheaper than silicon and other thin-film systems, it is claimed. The process would enable a very cost-efficient production capability in large-scale facilities, Natcore reckons.

Vanguard has achieved proof-of-concept in small-area devices and is ready to move to a validation stage, during which it will demonstrate larger-area working devices at the targeted efficiencies. The firm has two pending patents covering its solar cell development, as well as a broad range of photodetectors and optical sensors. Applications for the latter include manufacturing process monitoring and controls, homeland security surveillance, and biomedical sensors for diagnostics and testing.

In exchange for purchasing Vanguard, Natcore has agreed to issue Vanguard shareholders a total of 373,606 common shares, subject to the approval of the TSX Venture Exchange.

In conjunction, Natcore entered into an agreement with a firm performing services for Vanguard to pay legal fees incurred by it through the issuance of 120,075 common shares of Natcore and an agreement with a firm providing services to Natcore in relation to the Vanguard acquisition through the issuance of 20,000 common shares, all of which is subject to the approval of the TSX Venture Exchange.

See related item:

Natcore acquires Vanguard Solar

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