17 October 2022
5N Plus’ subsidiary AZUR to supply new space solar cell to Sierra Space
Specialty semiconductor and performance materials producer 5N Plus Inc of Montreal, Québec, Canada says that, through its subsidiary AZUR SPACE Solar Power GmbH of Heilbronn, Germany (acquired in 2021, which manufactures multi-junction solar cells based on III-V compound semiconductor materials), it has signed a ten-year extension to its exclusive teaming arrangement with US-based commercial space company Sierra Space.
AZUR will produce the new MWT solar cell, for use exclusively in the production of Sierra Space’s patented Space Solar Surface Mount Technology solar array systems. Developed in partnership by both companies, this solar cell technology enables automated production and assembly, and is expected to revolutionize solar array cost of assembly, resiliency and power density. The MWT solar cells enable arrays with higher power density, reducing the size of the arrays for equivalent power of a conventional design. They are also more cost-effective when completing the laydown to satellite solar power arrays. The automation enables Sierra Space to deliver solar power arrays with less than one-half of the conventional array lead times. In addition, the panel configurations can be easily modified for specific applications and accommodate a wide range of power levels, from a few watts to Megawatts.
“This strategic agreement is the culmination of several years of collaboration between AZUR and Sierra Space and we are extremely proud to begin a commercial relationship with a space industry innovator,” comments 5N Plus’ president & CEO Gervais Jacques. “AZUR continues to expand its global client base as the partner of choice in high-end solar cell technology, further reinforcing 5N Plus’ leadership as a trusted partner for the supply of critical specialty semiconductor materials for sectors powering the future both on Earth and in space.”
The innovation comes at a time when demand for solar power for space applications is rapidly accelerating and is expected to exceed existing available capacity. According to independent market studies, the global space power market is expected to increase approximately tenfold by 2030 from 2019 levels, with solar cells representing the largest growth outlook.
“This agreement will be incremental to AZUR’s earnings/revenues, which are expected to become more meaningful over time as we mutually ramp up capacity to meet the growing demand in this critical sector,” says Jacques. “This aligns with our long-term strategy of focusing on value-added markets that present strong opportunities to leverage our expertise and expand our total addressable markets.”