Last week we reported that Brian Stone, a VP at Nanosolar, had left the firm.
Today, the personnel shifts continued at the CIGS thin film solar vendor.
Geoff Tate, CEO for about two years, has been replaced by Eugenia Corrales, who will assume the position immediately.
According to a press release, Tate recruited Corrales in May 2010 to serve as the EVP of engineering and operations. The release continues, "Ms. Corrales held a number of executive positions, including several years as a Vice President at Cisco, where she ran all of Product Operations for Cisco-branded products. She was previously responsible for Manufacturing Operations of $7B in router, switching and optical product revenue. Prior to Cisco, Corrales spent 11 years in engineering and R&D management at HP. Prior to joining Nanosolar, she was founder and VP of engineering of two cleantech startups. She holds a bachelor’s degree in physics from Grinnell College and a master’s in mechanical engineering from Stanford University."
Nanosolar has had a history of technical and commercial promises, most recently these relating to cost:
- Below $1.00 per watt factory cost by the end of 2011
- Low $0.80s or high $0.70s per watt by late 2012
- In the $0.60s in 2013
- Below $0.60 per watt in 2014
Nanosolar produced 2.5 megawatts of panels in 2010. The firm has only shipped a cumulative total of 10 megawatts in its history.
The firm has suggested that it will ship megawatts measuring in the "triple digits" in 2012. Cell production capacity was to be 115 megawatts at the end of 2011, and the next step jumps the firm to 250 megawatts of cell capacity at the San Jose facility. Panel assembly is performed at Nanosolar's factory in Luckenwalde, Germany.
The firm is shipping 10-percent-efficiency panels today with a target of 12 percent efficiency this year. Expectations are for 13 percent in 2013 and 14 percent in 2014. However, attaining a 4-percentage-point increase in efficiency in the space of four years would be an unprecedented feat never before achieved by any solar firm.
The company is focused solely on utility-scale deployments. Its large utility-size panels are currently rated at 200 watts, with additional output gains expected as efficiency rises.
Nanosolar also announced that it has signed long-term supply agreements for up to one gigawatt of PV panels with Belectric of Kolitzheim, Germany; EDF Energies Nouvelles of Paris, France; and Plain Energy of Munich, Germany.
Take that "long-term supply agreement" lingo with a grain of salt, however. These contracts are not binding, are not take-or-pay, and are predicated on Nanosolar's ability to achieve its cost and efficiency targets as promised. Still, although those agreements don't translate as real backlog, they do translate to patient customers who appear willing to work with Nanosolar. Nanosolar, as a new supplier without a field performance track record, employs module warranty insurance to help financiers and customers feel comfortable and improve the firm's bankability.
Ed Gunther reported on a number of other promises made by the company at a recent solar event.
An investor in Nanosolar I spoke with recently still maintains that Nanosolar is one of the few firms that can give First Solar and the Chinese c-Si vendors a run for their money.
Nanosolar will also have to raise large amounts of funding in the short term, a difficult situation in the post-Solyndra CIGS era and a challenging task for the new CEO.