Monday, December 1, 2014

Startup Semprius, Breakthrough Solar Tech

Startup Semprius Fights to Bring Breakthrough Solar Tech to Market | MIT Technology Review: "... Semprius, a startup based in Durham, North Carolina, claims that the next generation of this power unit will make solar power the cheapest option for utilities installing new power plants. With fields of over 1,000 of these devices, utilities would produce electricity at less than 5 cents per kilowatt-hour. That is even cheaper than today’s least expensive option: a new natural gas plant. The technology originated in the lab of John Rogers, a professor of chemistry and materials science and engineering at the University of Illinois. Semprius has raised $45 million from investors including Siemens, and has set records for solar-cell efficiency—meaning the amount of energy in sunlight that is converted into electricity. This year it demonstrated that it could use a version of its technology to make a novel kind of solar cell that, some believe, could convert half of the energy in sunlight into electricity, about three times better than conventional solar cells. Yet for all the promise of the technology, Semprius is in a tough financial spot. For its technology to be cost-effective, Semprius must scale up the production of its solar cells significantly. Right now it can make enough solar units to produce six megawatts of power per year, but it needs to raise that to at least 200 megawatts. The company is raising $40 million in hopes of doing this. Its current investors say they’ll contribute, and for now they’re loaning the company money to keep it in business, but they won’t do so forever. The company needs a new investor soon. Otherwise it could go under...."

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