LOWELL, USA: Konarka Technologies, Inc., an innovator in development and commercialization of Konarka Power Plastic, a material that converts light to energy, has signed a comprehensive R&D collaboration and strategic investment agreement with Konica Minolta Holdings Inc. (Konica Minolta).
The companies reached agreement to start full-scale collaboration in April in the joint development and distribution of organic thin-film photovoltaics. Under the agreement, Konica Minolta has invested $20 million in Konarka.
“Konica Minolta positions the organic thin-film photovoltaic business as one of the most promising in the environment and energy field, next to the organic light emitting diode (OLED) business, where our photographic film manufacturing technology is leading mass production,” commented Masatoshi Matsuzaki, CEO at Konica Minolta. “We are pleased to be collaborating with Konarka, the first and world leader to commercialize organic thin-film photovoltaics because of its state-of-the-art polymer technology and its mass production facility in New Bedford, Massachusetts.”
The companies will organize respective strengths in materials, optical and coating technologies as well as joint development, aiming to improve organic thin-film photovoltaic performance including higher conversion efficiency, longer life and lower manufacturing costs, to realize mass production of next-generation photovoltaics. Currently, Konarka’s roll-to-roll process simplifies manufacturing scale-up, has significantly lower capital and labor costs than previous generations of solar cells and can be produced using existing coating and printing equipment.
Upon successful results of the joint development milestones, the companies are expected to establish a joint venture company in Japan to produce organic thin-film photovoltaic panels. Konica Minolta will be Konarka’s lead Asian business partner headquartered in Japan.
“We are delighted that Konica Minolta recognizes the value of Konarka’s patent-protected thin film solar material that is lightweight and flexible, uniquely lending itself to a wide range of applications where traditional photovoltaics are not effective,” commented Howard Berke, executive chairman and co-founder of Konarka. “With our collaboration efforts, Konarka and Konica Minolta are well positioned to deliver efficient, next-generation photovoltaic panels to meet the growing demand for personal and commercial solar energy solutions around the world.”