Suniva said it's on track to start turning out its first screen-printed solar cells next week at its 32-megawatt production line in Gwinnett County, Georgia, the company told Greentech Media.
The Atlanta-based startup, which has two deals to sell nearly $1 billion of its cells through 2013, also plans to build a 64-megawatt production line at its Gwinnett County facility in mid-2009, said Bryan Ashley, vice president of marketing and sales, on Tuesday at the Solar Power International conference in San Diego.
In August, Suniva signed a $500 million deal to provide cells to German panel maker Solon from 2009 through 2012, as well as a contract to sell $480 million worth of solar cells to Indian solar panel manufacturer Titan Energy Systems through 2013 (see Suniva Scores $480M Solar Cell Contract).
Suniva hasn't disclosed the manufacturing cost-per-watt of its new production line. The year-old startup, founded in 2006 by Ajeet Rohatgi of Georgia Institute of Technology's University Center of Excellence in Photovoltaics, is using a low-cost method of depositing silicon that is akin to "a high-tech version of screen-printing a T-shirt," Ashley said.
The company has raised $55.5 million in two rounds of venture capital, with investors including New Enterprise Associates and Advanced Equities, which co-led the financing, as well as The Goldman Sachs Group's subsidiary Cogentrix Energy, H.I.G. Ventures and Quercus Investments.
Suniva last month reported that its solar cells have seen efficiencies as high as 20 percent in converting sunlight to electricity in tests conducted at the U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
That's a record for screen-printed solar cells, Ashley said. But it's not as high as the 23.4 percent efficiency that San Jose, Calif.-based SunPower Corp. (NSDQ: SPWR) claimed for one of its prototype crystalline silicon solar cells in May.
But Suniva says it can make its cells more cheaply through its screen-printing process that cuts down on the number of steps needed to complete the cells.
In June, Suniva CEO John Baumstark said the company planned to spend $75 million over the next few years in order to manufacture more than 100 megawatts of cells per year (see Suniva Gets Ready to Roll).