Solar Firm Confident of Breaking World Efficiency Record in 2008

Low Carbon Accelerator Limited has announced that it has made a further investment of £320,000 in QuantaSol Limited following the achievement of certain milestones. This brings LCA's total equity ownership to 25.6%.

LCA invested £480,000 in June 2007 as part of an overall £1.35 million seed funding round which also included investment from Imperial Innovations, Numis Securities Ltd, Netscientific Ltd, and Sheffield University Enterprise. Low Carbon Accelerator and Imperial Innovations were co-lead equity investors.

QuantaSol will provide solar photovoltaic ("PV") cells for use in concentrating photovoltaic ("CPV") systems for the fast growing utility-scale solar power generation market. Quantasol used the original funds to produce prototypes of its Quantum Well Photovoltaic ("QWPV") cells and to engage with potential customers for such cells and will use the additional funds to continue their product development.

CPV systems use relatively inexpensive optics such as mirrors or lenses to concentrate or focus light from a broad collection area onto a much smaller area of active semiconductor PV cell material. Since the PV semiconductor material usually dominates the costs of a solar PV system, reducing the amount of PV material required to capture a given amount of sunlight leads to substantially lower system cost and cost per watt of output.

QuantaSol's "third generation" cells are based on gallium arsenide and other semiconductor materials. These materials are more expensive than silicon, which is commonly used for flat panel PV cells, but have more than double the photovoltaic efficiency. QuantaSol plans to manufacture single and multi-junction concentrator solar cells with efficiency levels of up to 40% as opposed to silicon and thin film cells whose efficiencies are below 20%.

Currently, the world efficiency record for single junction cells, held by the US company Varian, stands at 27.8% and has been unequalled for 20 years. However, Quantasol's cells are consistently recording efficiency levels of 27.5% and the management team are confident of reaching levels equal to or in excess of the world record during 2008.

Kevin Arthur, CEO of Quantasol, said: "The world record for solar efficiency was a real one-off and our results consistently come very close to equalling that. With the new round of funding in place we are confident of setting a new efficiency record for single junction cells during 2008. The Quantum Wells also make it possible to enhance the efficiency of multi-junction cells and, during 2008, QuantaSol also aims to set a record 35% tandem cell efficiency."

Dr Stephen Mahon, Chief Investment Officer at Low Carbon Initiative, LCA's investment manager, said: "We are very pleased with the progress that QuantaSol has made since our initial investment, exceeding the milestones which we set. The market for CPV is enormous, and, if they can show their cells are the world's most efficient, QuantaSol looks poised to take full advantage of it."

About Low Carbon Accelerator: 

Low Carbon Accelerator Limited is a closed ended investment company created to invest in a portfolio of fast-growing low carbon businesses. The Company listed on the AIM Market of the London Stock Exchange on 11 October 2006, raising £44.5 million.

The Company's investment objective is to provide shareholders with an attractive return on their investment primarily through significant minority (predominately 25% and above) holdings in a diverse portfolio of unquoted private companies providing low carbon products and services.

The Company will initially invest principally in companies based in the UK, Europe and the US, which provide low carbon products and services across the following sectors:

  • Buildings (sustainable building materials, heating, lighting, clean air and water technologies for industrial, commercial and/or residential use)
  • Fuels (bio-fuels, low carbon fuels, catalysts and additives)
  • Energy efficiency (reductions in energy inputs at source, improved conversion and reductions at point of use)
  • Energy generation (sustainable and clean energy, micro and distributed generation)

The Company's investment strategy is to target trading businesses with patentable technologies and products with a clear commercial application and the opportunity to gain a large market share of a new or expanding market. The Company focuses on businesses with experienced management teams who have developed commercially viable products providing easily adoptable solutions which deliver immediate reductions in carbon dioxide emissions.

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