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Intel spins off solar energy tech

Posted: 18 Jun 2008     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:solar energy  photovoltaic energy  photovoltaic cells  renewable energy 

Intel Corp. is spinning off key assets of a start-up business effort inside Intel's New Business Initiatives group to form an independent company called SpectraWatt Inc to spur new development and demand for renewable energy sources.

Intel Capital, Intel's global investment organisation, is leading a Rs.200.11 crore ($50 million) investment round in SpectraWatt and is joined by Cogentrix Energy LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of The Goldman Sachs Group Inc., PCG Clean Energy and Technology Fund Solon AG. The transaction is expected to close in the second quarter of 2008.

SpectraWatt will manufacture and supply photovoltaic cells to solar module makers. In addition to focusing on advanced solar cell technologies, SpectraWatt will concentrate development efforts on improvements in current manufacturing processes and capabilities to reduce the cost of photovoltaic energy generation. SpectraWatt expects to break ground on its manufacturing and advanced technology development facility in Oregon in 2H 08 with first product shipments expected by mid-2009.

"SpectraWatt is a great example of technology resulting from entrepreneurial efforts inside Intel," said Arvind Sodhani, president of Intel Capital and Intel executive vice president. "This is an important investment for Intel Capital in the growing cleantech sector and we look forward to working with the company to support its expansion."

Solar cells are the discrete components in a solar energy generation system responsible for converting sunlight to electricity. The end-user market segment for solar technology in 2007 was approximately Rs.120,063.21 crore ($30 billion), a 50 per cent increase from 2006, according to Photon Consulting. Solar industry growth of 30 to 40 per cent annually is expected to continue in years to come as the economics of solar, which is currently approximately twice the cost of delivered retail electricity on a per kilowatt basis, begins to approach that of traditional electricity-generation technologies.

Intel has a long history of commitment to the environment and has applied technology innovation to drive energy-efficiencies within its own products and operations. The development of a small solar business within Intel is consistent with the philosophy to protect the environment as well as seek new business opportunities. Intel is on track to reduce its total worldwide greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent from 2004 levels through 2010, and also recently introduced lead- and halogen-free microprocessors. Additionally, Intel currently tops the Environmental Protection Agency's Green Power list as the largest purchaser of renewable energy credits.

"The formation of SpectraWatt is an important step forward in the renewable energy market," said Andrew Wilson, SpectraWatt CEO and former general manager in the Intel New Business Initiatives group. "We are pleased to work with these companies in the goal of moving towards long-term national energy independence."

"We are very proud to be part of this exciting new venture," said Thomas Krupke, SOLON AG CEO. "With the experience and commitment of all companies involved, we are confident to reach our common goal—advancing solar technology to a new stage."

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