solar film production deal reached
Natcore Technology Inc. has completed an agreement
with a Chinese consortium forming a joint venture to develop
and produce film-growth equipment and materials that could significantly
lower the cost of manufacturing solar cells.
At the heart of the joint venture is Natcore Technology’s patented
Liquid Phase Deposition (LPD) technology, licensed from Rice
University where it was developed. LPD grows an anti-reflective
(AR) film on a substrate in a room-temperature chemical bath,
potentially making solar cells significantly cheaper and cleaner
to produce. Existing technology uses a high-temperature vacuum
furnace to grow the coating, requiring much more energy in the
process and much more silicon to achieve the thickness needed
to withstand the firing.
The new company, Natcore China, is a joint venture between Natcore
Technology, based in Red Bank, NJ; the Zhuzhou Hi-Tech Industrial
Development Zone, a government-supported zone in Hunan province;
and Chuangke Silicon Ltd., a polycrystalline silicon producer.
Natcore China will be 55 percent owned by Natcore Technology,
with its partners holding the remaining 45 percent. The agreement
is subject to approval by the Toronto Venture Exchange.
Under this agreement, Natcore China will have a life span of
at least 20 years. It will have exclusive rights in perpetuity
to develop and manufacture the AR coating equipment used in this
technology, so long as it meets specified pricing and quality
control standards, and to sell it to solar cell producers in
Natcore China will also have exclusive rights for a period of
five years to develop and manufacture this equipment for sale
anywhere in the world. The solar cell producers that buy this
equipment may sell their output anywhere in the world.
Natcore Technology retains the unrestricted rights to license
their LPD technology for all other applications.
Natcore China will be funded by an initial $3 million investment
consisting of $500,000 dollars contributed by Natcore Technology,
and $2,500,000 dollars contributed by the Chinese Partnership.
With the signing of this agreement, Natcore China will immediately
begin staffing, retooling and installing equipment in an existing
$250 million facility within the Hi-Tech Zone. They expect that
first product shipments will be made within 10 months.
Under the agreement, Natcore China will complete the engineering
and production of self-contained, self-replenishing film-growth
equipment that will recycle the chemicals and water used in Natcore’s
LPD process. Until that is accomplished, however, the Chinese
partnership envisions the incorporation of the technology into
existing solar cell manufacturing lines through manual replenishment
of the chemical bath. Thus Natcore China may be able to serve
its first solar cell customers before product development is