On the heels of solar startup Suniva’s announcement that it will build its first plant in Georgia, the company says it has secured a big partner to supply it with polysilicon for its efficient low-cost solar cells. This morning Suniva announced it has a signed a five-year contract with Norwegian polysilicon producer REC to have access to $300 million worth of silicon wafers to use at its Georgia plant.
Securing the in-demand supplies of polysilicon — the key ingredient in solar cells — is a major issue for solar manufacturers, so Suniva can sleep a little easier now. As can the company’s investors. Suniva was founded by Ajeet Rohatgi at the Georgia Institute of Technology’s University Center of Excellence in Photovoltaics, and is backed by over $50 million from New Enterprise Associates, Advanced Equities, Goldman Sachs Group, HIG Ventures and Quercus Investments.
Suniva also needs less polysilicon than many of its peers. While the company makes its cells from silicon, it manufactures them thinner, reducing the overall cost. At the same time the company claims a high efficiency of over 20 percent. Suniva will use the polysilicon from REC at its manufacturing plant, which will have initial solar production capacity of 32 MW, with a potential for expansion to 100 MW. The startup founded just two years ago is gearing up.