Tata group has invested in Flisom (Flexible and lightweight solar modules), a Switzerland-based company, to mark its interest in the solar photovoltaic industry and focus on developing the next generation of clean energy as a future growth area.
Further, a private Swiss investor with business interest in start-up companies who provided initial support and investment to scale-up the technology has increased the investment.
Flisom specializes in flexible and lightweight thin-film photovoltaic solar modules and is in the process of setting up a 5 MW pilot plant in Duebendorf, Switzerland for commercializing its breakthrough technology. The estimated cost is approximately 25 million Euros and in a phased approach, the company intends to scale up to over 100 Megawatt of annual capacity. These solar cells will provide electricity at ultra-low costs and will enter the mass market globally.
The plant will use superior technology and develop high quality flexible solar cells which in turn will produce electricity at ultra-low cost. These high performance and low-cost solar cells will create a significant impact on clean and sustainable solar electricity generation.
With over 10 employees at present, Flisom plans to further increase its personnel with experienced manufacturing and technical specialists. Flisom will also raise additional funding in the near future in order to accelerate the production ramp-up and commercialization of its lightweight flexible solar cells.
Mr. Kishor Chaukar, Managing Director, Tata Industries said, "Flisom is an innovative start-up company, which is on its way to enter the international market. It is led by a team of highly motivated and talented individuals. Depending on the performance of the company and the growth of the sector we would be looking at furthering our association with them. We see value in this technology and the resultant product not only as manufacturers or sellers but also as users of it. It is a positive step to actively stimulate the market for renewable energy, especially solar."
Added Mr. Anil Sethi, Chief Executive Officer, Flisom, "The Tata group has a significant presence in the energy sector and is known worldwide for its quality consciousness and constant endeavors for improvement and innovation. We have leadership in next-generation flexible thin-film solar cells that have the potential to deliver electricity at costs competitive with nuclear or fossil fuels. Tata group has instilled their faith and trust in our breakthrough technology and we are confident of delivering a quality product."
The global market for PV has grown at about 30% annually for over 10 years. The cumulative solar energy production still accounts for less than 0.1% of the global energy demand. PV growth is set to accelerate in the coming years as it becomes cost-competitive with the retail price of electricity in many parts of the world.
FLISOM aims to produce flexible thin-film solar cells with low-cost roll-to-roll manufacturing technology.
The solar cells are based on the compound CIGS, which absorbs light extremely efficiently. Tiny amounts of material and energy are required for their manufacture, and light-to electricity conversion efficiencies are high. This offers significant advantages over prior-art technologies - from application, business, as well as from environment points of view.
The solar cells are prepared on a polymer (plastic) foil. They are thinner than a sheet of paper and extremely lightweight. The absorbers are intrinsically stable and hardly degrade during use - on Earth and in space.
Flisom's edge on clean energy
The FLISOM technology is based on the concepts that led to the world record for light-to-power conversion efficiency (14.1%) of solar cells on plastic, developed at ETH Zurich.
The cost of electricity produced with such solar cells will be significantly lower than with the solar cell technologies common today. Roll-to-roll manufacturing technology allows continuous deposition of thin films onto flexible plastic substrates at high speeds. Coating in vacuum enables fabrication of very pure materials that reach highest efficiencies.
About Tata group
Tata companies operate in seven business sectors: communications and information technology, engineering, materials, services, energy, consumer products and chemicals.
They are, by and large, based in India and have significant international operations. The total revenue of Tata companies, taken together, was $62.5 billion (around Rs. 251,543 crore) in 2007-08, with 61 per cent of this coming from business outside India, and they employ around 350,000 people worldwide.
The Tata name has been respected in India for 140 years for its adherence to strong values and business ethics. Every Tata company or enterprise operates independently. Each of these companies has its
own board of directors and shareholders, to whom it is answerable.
There are 27 publicly listed Tata enterprises and they have a combined
Founded in 2005, FLISOM is a spin-off company of ETH Zurich and is located in EMPA, Duebendorf. Previously, FLISOM has also won the "ZKB Pionierpreis Technopark 2006" which is given to one company every year.
FLISOM was also selected by Red Herring for the "Red Herring 100" award, which recognizes the top 100 most promising private companies based in the EMEA region driving the future of technology.
Flisom team of researchers holds the world-record for the highest efficiency on polymer foil since 1999 and they are the first Swiss company to be honoured as a "Technology Pioneer" - recognition granted by the World Economic Forum.
Further information about the company is available at www.flisom.com .