€39m for German green photovoltaic silicon wafers

€39m for German green photovoltaic silicon wafers

Business news |
By Nick Flaherty

German wafer maker NexWafe  has raised €39m in its latest round of funding and plans a wafer gigafactory in India with a strategic investor

The Series C financing round was led by Reliance New Energy Solar (RNESL), a wholly owned subsidiary of Reliance Industry in India, which invested €25m (US$29m). Other investors include InnoEnergy, Lynwood, Saudi Aramco Energy Ventures and existing investors. InnoEnergy will also convert its current debt of €4m in NexWafe into equity at the same share price.

The investment by Reliance will accelerate product and technology development for NexWafe, including completion of the commercial development of NexWafe’s solar photovoltaic products on prototype lines in Freiburg, Germany

Reliance and NexWafe have also entered into an India Strategic Partnership Agreement to develop the technology, at scale, of the high-efficiency monocrystalline “green solar wafers.” This gives Reliance access to NexWafe’s proprietary technology and plans to build large-scale wafer manufacturing facilities in India using the NexWafe processes and technology and avoids relying on wafers from China.

NexWafe spun out of the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems in 2015 to develop and produce monocrystalline silicon wafers grown directly from the gas phase to finished wafers. This proprietary process avoids the need for energy intensive intermediate steps such as polysilicon production and ingot pulling, cutting carbon dioxide emissions by 70 percent.

Using in-line manufacturing for the formation of an initial release layer as well as for epitaxial deposition of silicon in an atmospheric chemical vapour deposition process makes the wafer 30 percent cheaper.

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“With its strategic partnership with NexWafe, Reliance can bring the latest in solar wafer innovation to India while also leveling the global playing field for photovoltaic manufacturers, expanding manufacturing beyond a single source market,” said Davor Sutija, CEO of NexWafe.

“We at Reliance have always believed in being ahead of the technology curve in all our businesses,” said Mukesh Ambani, Chairman of Reliance Industries. “Our partnership with NexWafe testifies to this yet again, as we embark on an ambitious mission to meet affordable green energy needs of India’s rapidly growing economy. Our investment in NexWafe signals an important step towards accelerating India’s green energy transition and positioning India as a global leader in photovoltaic manufacturing. We believe NexWafe’s innovative ultra-thin wafer will give solar manufacturers a significant advantage over existing photovoltaic technologies, helping consumers in India and globally realize the benefits of solar energy more quickly and more efficiently.

Reliance is India’s largest private sector company, with a consolidated turnover of $73.8bn from hydrocarbon exploration and production, petroleum refining and marketing, petrochemicals, retail, and digital services.

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