Looks like SpectraWatt’s struggles haven’t deterred Intel from investing in solar.
SpectraWatt, an Intel spinoff which has raised about $50 million in venture capital to develop its solar cells, recently said it would close a plant and lay off 100 workers. But Intel’s investment arm is bouncing right back, this time with a bet on a promising solar-manufacturing technology that has gathered increasing steam lately. Intel Capital announced today it led a $25 million equity round for Sulfurcell, a German thin-film CIGS solar modules supplier.
CIGS is considered one of the most promising new solar technologies on the market because of its high efficiency, according to Lux Research analyst Matt Feinstein. CIGS players have seen some good news recently, with SoloPower raising $51 million and announcing it would open a factory in Oregon. AQT Solar has also announced plans to open a new factory to help meet a backlog of demand.
As a general rule, thin-film silicon and thin-film cadmium telluride panels cost less but yield smaller efficiency rates than traditional crystalline silicon panels. But CIGS efficiency rates have changed that, and costs are expected to continue to drop as companies realize more manufacturing efficiencies.
CIGS is named for its ingredients, copper, indium, gallium and de-selinide, a relatively newer solar technology that yields higher efficiency than the cadmium telluride thin-film solar technology that is more prevalent on the market.