Intel Spins off Solar Energy Technology to Manufacture Photovoltaic Cells

New company, SpectraWatt, will focus on improving manufacturing processes to reduce cost of photovoltaic energy generation.

To spur new development and demand for renewable energy sources, Intel Corp. announced on June 16 it 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. Intel Capital, Intel's global investment organization, is leading a $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 and Solon AG.

The new company, 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. The company expects to break ground on its manufacturing and advanced technology development facility in Oregon in the second half of 2008 with first product shipments expected by mid-2009.

"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."

The end-user market is quickly expanding increasing 50% from 2006 to 2007 to reach $30 billion, according to Photon Consulting. Overall solar industry growth of 30 to 40% 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 pointed out.

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