IQE buys into US solar firm and gets exclusive supply deal

Cardiff-based wafer supplier IQE is to buy a 9% share of solar cell maker Solar Junction, and gear up to supply Solar Junction with wafers.

“Solar Junction holds the world record CPV cell efficiency of 43.5 per cent,” claimed IQE. “Using our combined intellectual property, IQE and SJC have a clear roadmap to increase efficiency to over 50% during the coming few years.”

CPV cells are concentrator photovoltaic cells – Solar Junction’s (SJC’s) speciality – which are used at the focus of a mirror or lens, and which generally require complex epitaxial structures.

IQE’s speciality is adding epitaxial layers to wafers.

“This is a potentially transformational opportunity,” said IQE CEO Dr Drew Nelson. “It is expected to facilitate a significant acceleration in our concentrator photovoltaic strategy and it provides us with an opportunity to become a key epi supplier to the CPV market.”

To raise the money, which will also pay for additional manufacturing equipment, IQE is issuing new shares.

“IQE announces that it intends to place 43,750,000 new ordinary shares to raise £10.5m gross,” said IQE. “The net proceeds will be used to fund a 9% equity investment in Solar Junction, the purchase of dedicated high volume molecular beam epitaxial production tools, the cost of ancillary quality control equipment, and to establish initial wafer manufacturing at IQE.”

Part of the deal is that IQE will be SJC’s exclusive supplier of epitaxial layers on wafers, and get exclusive access to SJC’s on-going R&D programme.

Net proceeds of the £10.5m (gross) will be split thus, according to IQE:
~$5m to buy 9% SJC equity.
~$8m to buy high volume MBE production tools dedicated to SJC.
~$2m to buy ancillary quality control equipment, process transfer and to establish initial wafer manufacturing at IQE.

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