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Kevin Bullis

A View from Kevin Bullis

Small Factory to Build Powerful Solar Panels

Startup Semprius will soon open a plant to produce is concentrated solar modules.

  • September 14, 2012

A startup’s novel way to dice up semiconductor wafers is leading to some of the world’s most powerful solar panels—they convert over a third of the energy in sunlight, compared to about 15 percent for conventional solar panels. Now that company, Semprius, has announced that it will open a factory in Henderson, North Carolina, later this month to manufacture them. Although the opening will mark a significant milestone for the company on the way to commercialization, the technology is still at a relatively early stage of development: the factory will produce only a few megawatts of solar panels, compared to the hundreds of megawatts that silicon solar panel factories make. 

Factory gate: Semprius will open this solar module factory later this month. Credit: Semprius

For more about the technology, which Technology Review chose as one of the top 10 emerging technologies this year, see “TR10: Ultra-Efficient Solar.”

The news of the plant opening is a bright spot in a dark time for the solar industry. Just this week, another startup, GreenVolts, that like Semprius relies on concentrating sunlight, was forced to lay off almost all of its employees after its major investor pulled funding.

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