Israeli start-up company Orionsolar, a developer of solar energy photovoltaics, has received terms for a second round financing. $750,000 will be invested by the New York based investment group 21ventures.
Orionsolar has joined the race to build very low cost solar energy panels costing less than $1 per peak watt, equivalent to less than 8 cents per kWh. Orionsolar is avoiding silicon, which is very expensive to manufacture, and has chosen dye cell nanotechnology.
Dye cells were first invented 15 years ago. Orionsolar says it has made the development breakthroughs required to make the technology commercial.
The development efforts are led by Dr Jonathan Goldstein. Goldstein has worked for many years in battery technology and has 37 patents to his name. He previously worked at Luz International Israel, which was taken over by Solel Solar Systems. Luz developed nine power plants generating a total of 345MW of electricity in the Mojave Desert in Southern California. Goldstein was also chief scientist at Electric Fuel (now (Arotech (Nasdaq: ARTX)).
According to Orionsolar, the solar energy market is growing at 25% a year, and was worth at least $4 billion in 2004.
Solar energy still provides less than 0.5% of world energy consumption. It is held back by the inherent high costs of traditional polycrystalline silicon photovoltaics. Orionsolar says dye cell PV is the technology with the most potential to drive down costs. Dye has the additional advantage that it can be made on plastic substrates and therefore it is much lighter and cheaper to manufacture.
In the third world, there are more than 1 billion people without electricity. With a light cheap dye cell, a consumer can walk into a shop, buy a Orionsolar PV module in a roll, take it home on the bus, clip to his roof by himself, and even take it in at night to deter thieves.
Another market is for portable applications. Solar panels on laptops, phones, or even clothes are of great interest to consumer electronics companies.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes.co.il - on April 14, 2005