Signet Solar to Enter Solar Energy Market

May 14, 2007 by Jeff Shepard

Signet Solar, Inc. announced its entry into the renewable energy market with what it claims is cutting-edge silicon thin film solar technology. The company says that it is strongly positioned to accelerate widespread adoption of solar energy by establishing an industry-leading solar photovoltaic (PV) module manufacturing cost structure, targeting grid parity by 2010.

For over a year, Signet explored various options and selected the solar PV technology with what it thinks has the greatest potential for significant cost reduction and very large scale manufacturing. Signet was founded by a team of semiconductor technologists and manufacturing executives with a proven track record of commercializing new technologies. Capitalizing on this expertise, the company will design and produce photovoltaic (PV) modules – devices that convert the sun’s rays into electricity – for applications such as solar farms, large commercial installations, building integrated photovoltaics, and remote habitation.

Dr. Prabhu Goel, Chairman and Founder of Signet Solar, stated, "We are excited to apply our extensive experience to this new market. The world is experiencing a massive energy challenge - pressured by fossil fuel depletion, global warming, and increased energy demands in emerging economies. Our vision is to make solar energy a viable choice for a sustainable energy future."

Signet Solar is establishing its first production line and its research and development headquarters near Dresden, Germany. The company has signed a contract with U.S.-based Applied Materials, a company that provides Nanomanufacturing Technology™ solutions, for a fully-integrated thin film silicon solar PV module production line using what are said to be the largest glass substrates (greater than five square meters) in the industry.

"Solar module and semiconductor manufacturing are closely related," said Dr. Mark Pinto, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Applied’s New Business and New Products Group. "We believe that Signet Solar is strongly-positioned to apply its management’s extensive expertise in semiconductor technology and manufacturing to optimize state-of-the-art thin film solar module production. We are excited to have this contract from Signet Solar."

Signet Solar plans to ramp its production using the Applied Materials equipment line by mid-2008. The Research & Development center will focus on developing and implementing innovative product designs, device architectures and manufacturing methods. The production line near Dresden will be replicated subsequently at locations worldwide. According to Dr. Rajeeva Lahri, Co-Founder, President and CEO of Signet Solar, "The real driver for the $10 billion solar PV industry is cost-per-watt. We will combine U.S. technology and German engineering to achieve a benchmark PV module manufacturing cost structure with world-class quality and reliability."

Signet Solar customers will include PV system integrators and installers of solar farms for power generation. The large glass substrates and relatively lower cost of thin film modules are ideal for large scale PV system installations, building-integrated photovoltaics and remote habitation. Thin film modules are expected to play a vital role in peak power production and stand-alone applications by avoiding massive investments in power infrastructure. Signet Solar is poised to significantly expand existing markets for Clean Affordable Renewable Energy™ and create vast new opportunities in developing nations.