Dublin solar-cell technology company Nines Photovoltaics has closed a €750,000 funding round led by Irish clean-tech investor Simple.ie.
The investment by Simple.ie comes through its Green Employment & Investment Incentive (EII) Fund and was supported by a number of key private investors, including the Irish State via Enterprise Ireland.
Established in 2007, the fund has raised €6.3m to date and is the largest investor in Irish clean-tech early stage technology companies with its portfolio of 12.
This brings the total funding raised by Nines Photovoltaics to date to more than €2.5m, including €1.2m through FP7 European Funding, which was announced in June 2011.
Based in the Synergy Centre on the Tallaght IT Campus, Nines Photovoltaics is headed up by Edward Duffy, CEO, Laurent Clochard, CTO, and Simon Forsyth, CFO.
The funding will be used to recruit additional staff and to build the company’s first industrial silicon wafer processing tool, which will house the disruptive technology that has been developed by the Nines Photovoltaics’ team.
This tool will be validated in a pilot production line in Fraunhofer ISE (Freiburg, Germany) – one of only two places in the world that can certify solar-cell efficiencies.
Through its breakthrough proprietary technology and equipment, the company aims to dramatically change the processes used to manufacture solar cells, reducing the production cost while also increasing cell efficiencies.
“These are exciting times." Edward Duffy, CEO, Nines Photovoltaics explained.
“We are innovating in a truly global market with enormous potential and are planning to export 100pc of our products. We plan to equip our first production lines in Q4 2012 while working with photovoltaic (PV) manufacturers across the globe."
Impact of solar-cell manufacturing
Solar-cell manufacturers have been impacted by the global downturn, which has led to much consolidation within the industry over the last 12 months, according to Simon Forsyth, CFO, Nines Photovoltaics.
“Our investors have seen the opportunity that this consolidation phase presents for our core proposition. Industry-wide, there has been a change of focus away from investment in production capacity to investment in technologies that result in cost reduction and increased cell efficiencies.
“This shift in focus is critical if cell manufacturers are to have an edge in this highly competitive market and our technology offers this advantage," Forsyth said.
In addition to the cost savings, this technology will dramatically lower cell manufacturer’s water consumption, enabling investment in the further scaling of their manufacturing facilities.
Nines Photovoltaics is the first company to offer a processing solution, which uses a fully dry process using only Zero Global Warming Potential chemicals. Its technology will also assist in moving the solar industry closer to "Grid Parity" – a point where solar electricity can compete on level terms with electricity generated from the burning of fossil fuels.
Commenting on the investment, Elliott Griffin, CEO, BVP Investments, the investment manager for Simple.ie, said: "We have been tracking their progress for the past two years. We believe the strength of the team and their trial customers based in the heart of the German solar technology industry is a very exciting combination."