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BRIGHT PROSPECTS FOR SUNIVA’S SOLAR-CELL TECHNOLOGY

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April 2008
BRIGHT PROSPECTS FOR SUNIVA’S SOLAR-CELL TECHNOLOGY

Will the energy generated by solar-cell technology become as affordable as conventional electricity in the near future? It will, according to Atlanta-based Suniva, which has managed to raise $50 million in venture capital. Founder Ajeet Rohatgi, a Georgia Tech professor, has licensed the technology from the university’s Center For Excellence in Photovoltaics, which he also heads. The firm will have a staff of 100, and that’s expected to rise to 1000 in five years. About 40 people will manage the round-the-clock operation. It was Rohatgi, the holder of 11 patents, who developed the technology that will enable Suniva to manufacture ultra-thin solar cells using mono-crystalline silicon. The resulting efficiency is likely to reduce the per-watt cost to less than a dollar in two to three years.

Suniva has high hopes, given that solar power is hot in more than the literal sense. Solar power currently meets only 2 percent of the world’s energy needs, but that’s projected to rise to 9 percent by 2030. Green is in, and Green is good, and now Suniva predicts that Green is also golden. Rohatgi, who has received numerous awards and published over 300 papers, joined Georgia Tech in 1985. That was also the year he started the Center for Excellence in Photovoltaic Research and Education, now considered one of the world’s leading facilities in solar technology. According to CEO John Baumstark, Suniva will initially produce $75 to $100 million in revenue and become profitable by the second year.


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