Strategic Choice of Baldwin Park and Solar Cell Classification Propel Caelux’s Growth
Perovskite advancement has emerged as a pivotal focus of research and development within the solar sector over the past decade. This nanomaterial exhibits a superior capacity to capture a broader spectrum of light compared to conventional silicon solar cells. By integrating perovskite layers with other solar technologies, the potential arises for creating more potent and efficient solar panels, all while incurring a relatively minimal additional expense. Researchers have been actively exploring diverse applications for perovskites, whether through spin-coating, spray deposition, or even painting them onto a substrate.
A noteworthy accomplishment comes from California-based Caelux, which has achieved success in applying its perovskite design onto glass surfaces. This innovation seamlessly integrates into existing silicon solar panel manufacturing processes, thereby streamlining the integration of perovskite technology.
Presently, Caelux has made a significant announcement: the successful conclusion of a Series A3 funding round, securing an impressive $12 million in investments. Leading this funding round is Temasek, accompanied by participation from prominent entities such as Reliance New Energy, Khosla Ventures, Mitsui Fudosan, and Fine Structure Ventures. This round of funding elevates Caelux’s total raised capital to an impressive $24 million.
With this substantial influx of funding, Caelux has ambitious plans. They intend to establish a cutting-edge manufacturing facility specializing in perovskite-coated glass. This factory, boasting a capacity of 100 megawatts, is set to be located in Baldwin Park, California, situated just outside the bustling city of Los Angeles.
“This infusion of investment will bolster our mission to pave the way for the next wave of solar innovation, encompassing the production of complete perovskite sub-modules,” stated Scott Graybeal, CEO of Caelux. “We are elated to have garnered the interest of forward-thinking global investors who will accompany us on our journey towards achieving a multi-gigawatt scale.”
The company’s flagship product, Caelux One, holds the potential to enable the solar industry to achieve its objective of surpassing 30% efficiency in commercially available solar modules. Graybeal shared with Solar Power World that this product enhances the efficiency of solar panels by approximately 6%, while the module manufacturer’s cost per watt remains constant. The integration process necessitates no supplementary steps by the module manufacturer — Caelux will utilize the existing glass dimensions specified for the production lines. A minor number of charge collection tape pieces are manually affixed at the bussing station, with no additional new equipment required to incorporate Caelux’s perovskite-glass into a module company’s manufacturing lines. The company’s focus currently lies on tandem-silicon designs, yet it remains open to various technological choices, including TOPCon, HJT, and PERC.
Despite perovskites showcasing promising performance in laboratory settings, their efficiency typically experiences a decline as the module size increases. Caelux is employing this funding to validate the viability of this technology at a larger form factor.
“We’ve been working within the 8-square-inch size domain for a considerable period, and our prototypes have undergone outdoor exposure for an extended duration,” Graybeal explained. “The primary objective for this production line is to qualify our novel product with our clientele and subsequently explore avenues for broader scalability. Our aim is to demonstrate the feasibility of applying this technology to a 2-square-meter substrate. Once the product gains certification, we’re already oversubscribed for the initial 18 months with a backlog of orders.”
Baldwin Park was selected as the ideal location for Caelux’s pilot line due to its substantial manufacturing workforce and its proximity to thriving academic and engineering communities. Geographically, being situated in the Western region makes strategic sense, particularly with the increasing establishment of major solar panel manufacturers in states like Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado.
“Our approach with Caelux involves adopting a ‘copy/paste’ mentality,” Graybeal elaborated. “We will first refine the process in Baldwin Park, fine-tune the equipment configurations, and subsequently replicate this blueprint in other locations, but on a larger scale.”
Caelux maintains a well-established partnership with the Indian solar conglomerate Reliance New Energy and is actively engaged in tandem design initiatives in India. Reliance’s acquisition of Norwegian solar panel manufacturer REC Group two years ago suggests potential plans for solar panel manufacturing in the United States.
According to Leslie Chang, Director of Strategy and Policy at Caelux, discussions with the Treasury Department indicate that Caelux One would be classified as a solar cell rather than merely a glass component, given its inherent production attributes. Consequently, Caelux becomes eligible for both manufacturing tax credits under the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) and as a domestically sourced element required for American solar panels.
“Companies are encouraged to incorporate us into their manufacturing value chain because they gain access to a solar cell that is domestically produced right here in the United States,” she explained. “By integrating Caelux technology, manufacturers not only enhance the overall power conversion efficiency of their modules but also enhance their compliance with domestic content regulations.”
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