UK-headquartered Eight19 has commissioned a new production facility at its Cambridge site, which includes a roll-to-roll line for manufacturing its plastic solar cells.
Though the line is installed, it will be around another two years before the company begins commercial production of organic photovoltaics (OPVs).
The target module efficiency is 5%, explains Eight19 CEO Simon Bransfield-Garth, making it suitable for the portable and off-grid applications the company is targeting, such as chargers for lamps and mobile phones in developing countries, and regions without access to electricity.
By working with partners to establish demand on the ground within local off-grid markets and communities for solar power that can be met by OPVs in future, Eight19 will be able to ramp up production volumes rapidly when its technology is ready, according to Bransfield-Garth.
In the meantime the manufacturing plant provides Eight19 with a flexible development system based on printing and room-temperature processes required for high volumes of low-cost, flexible solar modules.
Since being founded in 2010, Eight19 has established several local partnerships and pilots in parts of Africa to establish a market for its IndiGo pay-as-you-go solar-powered lamp system, as a safer, more economical and cleaner alternative to kerosene lamps used in many parts of sub-Saharan Africa.
The IndiGo system, which uses conventional solar cells, was launched in September 2011 in Kenya. The company recently announced it will also begin marketing IndiGo in southern Sudan. To support this latest initiative Eight19, with its partner SolarAid, has set up a fund that will finance the deployment of 4,000 IndiGo systems in east Africa.
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