Suniva Opens Production Line, Plans Expansion

It often takes years for cleantech ventures to go from an idea to production, but solar cell startup Suniva has gone from its founding to production in a little more than a year. The Atlanta-based company said today it has started fabricating its first line of solar cells at its Norcross, Ga. facility. Suniva says it plans to triple the current capacity to 96 megawatts by mid-2009 using 64 megawatts’ worth of new production equipment ordered from centrotherm photovoltaics AG, with a total capacity goal of 175 megawatts by early 2010.
That’s an ambitious production road map, but the company has moved quickly thus far. Founded in 2007, Suniva announced its plans to build a production facility at the end of 2007 and signed over $1 billion in sales contracts in 2008 with two large customers, Solon AG and Titan Energy Systems.

Suniva’s ARTisun cells are made from polysilicon but the company says its screen-printing process uses a fraction of the expensive material as compared to traditional silicon cells; it further claims that the ARTisun cells have an efficiency of 17.5 percent. The company is working to push that rate even higher; it recently had the DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory verify a new record for screen-printed cells of over 20 percent.
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.
Image of founder Dr. Ajeet Rohatgi and CEO John Baumstark with one of the first production cells courtesy of Suniva.