Heliatek GmbH inaugurated its first production facility for the manufacture of flexible organic solar panels in Dresden during a ceremony attended by the Prime Minister of Saxony, Stanislaw Tillich. Based on organic semiconductor materials, these flexible solar panels offer greater freedom of use than conventional photovoltaic products. The company has invested â‚¬14 million in the construction of this first production line and has created over 75 new jobs in recent years.
Heliatek developed the world's first manufacturing line producing organic solar panels in a roll-to-roll process using vacuum deposition at low temperatures - a process that holds excellent potential for significantly reducing costs in mass production. While other organic manufacturers rely on printing processes, Heliatek is the only company in the world that specializes in solar panel manufacture using vacuum deposition of small molecules (oligomers) on flexible film. The advantages lie in better process control, higher efficiency, and longer life span. "We can only overcome the challenges of our time - such as raw material shortages, energy transition, and climate change - with innovative ideas and cutting-edge technology. Heliatek, its partners, and its employees recognized the signs early and are already producing the technology of tomorrow with organic photovoltaics today. Dresden has offered Heliatek the best conditions possible, including a highly efficient research and development network, as well as local production and value creation. I'm pleased that the latest quality products made in Saxony are ready to change the world", said guest of honor Prime Minister Tillich to the three hundred guests from the business community, investors and project partners, as well as customers and company staff.
Thibaud Le Séguillon, CEO of Heliatek GmbH, added: "After a construction period of less than six months of this proof-of-concept production line, we have achieved an important milestone on our way to the commercialization of organic solar films based on small molecules. Now comes process integration. Heliatek will roll out its organic solar film for "Energy-2-Go" applications in the fall of 2012. Key product features will allow us to take truly green solar power everywhere it's needed. At the next step, the first volume market will be BIPV. To support this strategy, we plan to close another round of financing this year, during which we should raise â‚¬50 million from current and new investors for an additional production line."
Current investors involved in Heliatek's success are large industrial and financial companies, including BASF Venture Capital, Bosch, Innogy Venture Capital (RWE), and Wellington Partners. Thanks to these investors, Heliatek enjoys broad support throughout the entire value added chain ranging from chemical research and engineering and process design to securing distribution and capital in the energy and financial markets. Joint research and development activities facilitate the reciprocal exchange of experience and knowledge, from which all partners benefit.
"Organic photovoltaic is an important next generation technology for BASF," said Dirk Nachtigal, Managing Director of BASF Venture Capital. That's why BASF is developing new organic materials for solar cells that enable efficient and competitive energy generation. "In order to fully exploit the potential of this innovative technology, our collaboration with partners like Heliatek is of strategic importance," continued Nachtigal.
Heliatek panels offer almost total freedom of design thanks to their diverse dimensions, colors, and transparencies. The ultra-thin and light-weight panels -weighing in at only 500 grams per square meter - can be integrated into the widest range of applications. "I'm convinced that organic photovoltaics will take their rightful position in a highly competitive market, especially in segments in which they can easily play to their strengths. The system constructed by Heliatek offers all the facilities necessary to take advantage of this excellent opportunity," stated Dr. Alexander Flaig, Vice President Corporate Research at the Bosch Group.
Dr. Martin Pfeiffer, CTO and co-founder of Heliatek, together with his fellow researchers, Prof. Karl Leo and Dr.Jan Blochwitz-Nimoth, was just recently honored with the Deutscher Zukunftspreis, the German President's Award for Technology and Innovation, in December 2011 for their achievements in the development of organic electronics, Heliatek's core technology. Dr. Christian Reitberger of Wellington Partners commented: "Wellington Partners invests at an early stage in technology providers and entrepreneurs who have the potential to shape future markets or even revolutionize existing markets from the ground up. This is exactly the case with Heliatek. Heliatek can set new standards in the still fast-growing photovoltaic market with its in-house developed production processes."