Irish solar-tech firm Nines Photovoltaics secures €350k funding

12 Sep 2013

Conall Boyle, corporate banking, Bank of Ireland; Dawn Guiney, Kernel Capital; Edward Duffy, CEO, Nines Photovoltaics; and John O'Dea, department manager, High-Potential Start-ups (HPSUs) - Communications and Digital Content, Enterprise Ireland

Dublin-based solar-cell technology company Nines Photovoltaics, otherwise known as ‘Nines’, has secured €350,000 in funding as part of a syndicated investment round. The company plans to use the funding to help finish its process development work and to launch its product – a silicon-wafer processing tool – into the marketplace.

The overall fund investors committed €350,000 alongside existing investor Business Venture Partners (BVP).

The full details of the investment round, which involved additional parties, have not been disclosed, although Kernel Capital, which manages the Bank of Ireland Seed and Early Stage Equity Fund, has confirmed its participation.

While solar energy is regarded by some in renewable energy circles to have vast scope as a clean energy source, the technology to harvest this energy is still regarded as expensive for solar electricity generation to become a mainstream source of electricity. That is where Nines is hoping its technology will disrupt the solar-tech sector.

First silicon-wafer processing tool

In collaboration with the European solar-energy research institute, Fraunhofer ISE, which is based in Freiburg, Germany, Nines is developing technology that is focused on reducing the cost of harvesting solar energy by changing the processes used to manufacture solar cells. The ultimate goal is to reduce the production cost while increasing cell efficiencies.

Right now, Nines is validating its first silicon-wafer processing tool in a production environment.

According to the company, its technology to date has demonstrated improved reflection properties of solar cells in order to advance their energy capture and efficiency.

Nines claims it is the first company to offer a “dry process solution”. It says this provides high throughput and uses only zero global-warming potential chemicals to replace the existing 30-year-old water-based chemical etching process currently used in solar-cell manufacturing.

Edward Duffy, CEO, Nines Photovoltaics, said that as the number of global solar installations continue to rise, solar-cell manufacturers continue to look for innovative solutions to reduce costs and increase efficiencies in order to survive.

“We are currently ramping up our process development and entering the market with a disruptive new technology that will address the manufacturer’s needs,” he said.

John O’Dea, department manager, High-Potential Start-ups (HPSUs) at Enterprise Ireland, said Nines Photovoltaics is exactly the type of company that the enterprise agency is “keen” to support.

“They have already made significant progress, and Enterprise Ireland is working with them to further develop their international growth,” he said.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic