Innovalight is on a roll.
The VC-funded firm has developed a solar ink that boosts the performance of crystalline silicon solar cells. They've signed a series of deals to sell their efficiency-boosting material to a growing list of China-based crystalline silicon cell and module firms.
This morning, the firm announced yet another customer -- Taiwan's Motech. Motech builds single and multi-crystalline silicon solar cells in Taiwan and reached one gigawatt in production capacity in the third quarter of 2010, making them the largest solar cell manufacturer in Taiwan and one of the top ten manufacturers worldwide in terms of production capacity and output.
This is the fifth announced deal for Innovalight; the firm already has agreements with Asian solar powers Yingli Green Energy, Solarfun, Jinko Solar and JA Solar. This is a meaningful accomplishment for a 65-person Silicon Valley startup. Innovalight's nano-particle materials are produced in the U.S.
In Michael Kanellos' view, Chinese solar developers understand low-cost manufacturing and have the capital to build factories. Innovalight has innovative science on their side -- and these Asian solar giants recognize that value.
Innovalight manufactures a nanotechnology-based silicon ink and licenses a platform process that allows c-Si firms to upgrade solar cell manufacturing production lines, boost performance, and lower production costs.
The platform license business model is novel and seems to be working. Innovalight provides their silicon ink at a nominal cost -- that's not the primary source of their revenue. The licensing model is structured so that Innovalight's customers pay a fee for every wafer produced that uses the Innovalight special sauce. And with a world market of approximately five billion silicon wafers -- there's a large and growing total available market.
The value of the Innovalight product is that it fits gracefully into a customer's production process. One process step is added at the front end, after the wafer texturing step, and the Innovalight ink step is integrated into the customer's production line.
Innovalight owns a small ten-megawatt cell production line, which looks a lot like the production lines used by the Asian solar vendors. This allows Innovalight and its partners to develop their product and processes in a real world test bed and garners the credibility necessary for a VC-funded David to work with the gigawatt-scale Asian solar Goliaths.