With the closing of this acquisition, Natcore plans to aggressively advance the cutting-edge solar technologies being developed by Vanguard Solar, in particular the development of a flexible, thin-film photovoltaic material capable of silicon solar cell-like efficiency performance at potentially one-tenth the manufacturing cost and one-twentieth the capital investment.
“We are very excited about the technology developed by Vanguard,” says Chuck Provini, Natcore’s president and CEO. “With its possible suitability for use in now-dormant photographic film coating facilities, it holds the potential for rapid adoption following the remaining larger-scale proof-of-concept development. We will pursue this potential through both in-house efforts and possible joint ventures with industry.”
Brien Lundin, Natcore’s chairman, adds, “Through this acquisition, in combination with the many still-untapped applications of our Liquid Phase Deposition process and our acquisition of NewCyte Technology, Natcore is building a very valuable portfolio of intellectual property. While we will remain focused on our core business plan encompassing the development of anti-reflective film growth equipment and tandem solar cells, we will also explore the development of non-core applications.”
The Vanguard Solar technology involves a proprietary chemical bath process similar to Natcore’s liquid phase deposition (LPD) technology, although Vanguard had grown II-VI compound semiconductor thin films on carbon nanotubes at room temperature and ambient pressure, while Natcore has thus far concentrated on growing silicon dioxide films on silicon substrates.
The first-generation products from Vanguard’s method could produce 15%-16% efficiencies at module costs of 60¢ to 70¢ per watt. Second-generation technology could achieve 20% efficiencies at even lower costs per watt. The investment for production facilities is projected as low as $10 million to $15 million per 100-megawatt to 150-megawatt production capability, as compared with current costs of as much as $250 million for standard solar-cell production facilities. Vanguard’s production equipment would be designed for insertion into existing roll-to-roll film-coating lines of the sort that have been displaced by the emergence of digital photography. All production materials are widely available and dramatically cheaper than silicon and other thin-film systems. If successfully developed, the process would enable a very cost-efficient production capability in large-scale facilities.
Vanguard has achieved proof-of-concept in small-area devices and is ready to move to a validation stage, during which the company will demonstrate larger-area working devices at the targeted efficiencies expressed above. Vanguard has two pending patents covering its solar cell development, as well as a broad range of photo detectors and optical sensors. Among the applications for the latter are manufacturing process monitoring and controls, homeland security surveillance and biomedical sensors for diagnostics and testing.
As consideration for the purchase of Vanguard, Natcore is issuing Vanguard shareholders a total of 375,236 common shares. Natcore is also issuing 120,075 common shares to a firm performing services for Vanguard to pay legal fees incurred by Vanguard, and 20,000 common shares to a firm providing services to Natcore in relation to the Vanguard acquisition. The securities of Natcore issued pursuant to these transactions are subject to a hold period expiring on September 20, 2010.
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