Solar innovation

28 August 2012

From left: Federal Environment Minister Peter Altmaier, Prime Minister of Saxony Stanislaw Tillich, CEO Thibaud Le Séguillon, and CTO Dr. Martin Pfeiffer with an organic solar film during their tour through Heliatek's production facility

Federal Environment Minister Peter Altmaier, along with Saxony's Prime Minister, Stanislaw Tillich, recently visited Heliatek GmbH in Dresden. Heliatek's products will support the energy transformation towards sustainability in ways never thought possible before.

Heliatek manufactures energy harvesting components made of flexible solar films based on organic semiconductor materials. The company inaugurated its first production facility last March in Dresden in the presence of Prime Minister Tillich. The state-of-the-art manufacturing line is now up and running, with the plant carrying out the scheduled trial production. This visit emphasises the German Government's commitment to continue to provide extensive support for the research and development of environmentally friendly energy technologies.

Thibaud Le Séguillon, CEO of Heliatek GmbH, and Dr. Martin Pfeiffer, co-founder and CTO, gave Federal Environment Minister Peter Altmaier and Prime Minister of Saxony Stanislaw Tillich a tour of the production facility. As Heliatek is on schedule with commissioning and trial operations for production, the company was able to present its guests with finished solar films.

"Our first customers and partners are early adopters. We work with them closely to make our product a de-facto standard as solar energy harvesting components," explains CEO Thibaud Le Séguillon. "Energiewende goes beyond replacing nuclear power plants with wind and solar farms. Heliatek solar films will be used in applications never served before by traditional PV."

Thanks to the film's ultra-light weight, transparency and superior performance, Heliatek's customers will be able to integrate the solar films, into building and construction materials, car-roofs and street furniture. The first solar films coming off the line will be used for concrete façade projects as well as for pilots and prototypes with partners.

"Our production is ready, now we intend to raise an additional €60 million from current and new investors to significantly increase the capacity", says Le Séguillon. "We are operating the world's first production line in which organic solar films are manufactured in a roll-to-roll process using vacuum deposition. Our production readiness is a major milestone and allows us to offer our energy harvesting components to our partners for application development by Q3 2012 as scheduled."

Dr. Martin Pfeiffer states: "Our production process is similar to the one used by OLED today, but with the addition of the roll-to-roll element. This is important to mitigate the production ramp-up risks. Heliatek is the recognised world leader in OPV technology. We have an independently confirmed cell efficiency of 10.7 %, a product which passed IEC lifetime tests in our laboratories, and external measurement data that confirms the superior harvesting factor compared to other PV technologies. Our chemistry and physics R&D labs allow us to continuously extend our lead in organic photovoltaics and to improve our already strong patent portfolio; it covers our in-house developed and synthesised molecules, our cell structure and even some of our processes. That's how we are creating a highly defendable entry barrier for anyone trying to copy us."

The key to Heliatek's success is the family of small organic molecules – oligomers – developed and synthesised at its own lab in Ulm, Germany. Heliatek is the only solar company in the world that uses the deposition of small organic molecules in a low temperature, roll-to-roll vacuum process. Its solar tandem cells are made of nanometers-thin layers of high purity and uniformity. This enables the company to literally engineer the cell architecture to systematically improve efficiency and lifespan. This technology is very similar to the well-established OLED technology (organic LEDs) except that it operates in reverse, taking in light to create electricity. This gives Heliatek access to readily available manufacturing machines, giving it a fast track to reliable, volume production.

The image shows (from left): Federal Environment Minister Peter Altmaier, Prime Minister of Saxony Stanislaw Tillich, CEO Thibaud Le Séguillon, and CTO Dr. Martin Pfeiffer with an organic solar film during their tour through Heliatek's production facility


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