Soitec announced this week that the European Commission has approved the financing for the Guépard program, coordinated by Soitec. This program was launched to develop a new generation of highly efficient photovoltaic cells. It was selected in April 2012 by the “Invest for the Future” (Investissements d’Avenir) program, which is managed by the French environment and energy management agency (ADEME - Agence de l’Environnement et de la Maîtrise de l’Energie). As well as Soitec, Guépard brings together the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA), and an SME, InPACT. For all these partners together it represents total investment of €68.9 million over five years. The European Commission’s notification to the French government of its funding approval will give Soitec access to €21.3 million in government support. This approval demonstrates the value of the Guépard program in developing a high added-value solar industry in France and in Europe based on concentrating photovoltaic (CPV) technology.
The Guépard project aims at a major technological breakthrough: developing a new generation of solar cells to achieve previously unreachable efficiency levels in converting solar energy to electricity. With its portfolio of key technologies in the transfer of semiconducting materials, Soitec has the expertise and knowledge required to create four-junction solar cells, something that is impossible using traditional technologies. The recent world record in efficiency (44.7%) reached in September following preliminary work carried out with Fraunhofer ISE, CEA-Leti and Berlin’s Helmholtz Centre confirms the viability of the four-junction concept.
“With the Guépard program, our ambition is to allow our CPV technology to achieve unequalled levels of efficiency and competitiveness,” noted André-Jacques Auberton-Hervé, chairman of Soitec. “We are particularly pleased to have received funding approval from the European Commission for this ambitious program, which is strategically important not only for Soitec but also for the opportunities it will create in France and the rest of Europe. This reflects the credit given to our work and our expertise. We would like to thank the French Prime Minister, the French General Investment Commission, CGI, and the French Environment and Energy Management Agency, ADEME, for the support and the policy of promoting innovation as part of the “Invest for the Future” program.”
Soitec is currently one of the world’s main suppliers of CPV systems, whose production of electricity has proved particularly efficient and competitive in regions with high levels of sunshine. By using optical lenses to concentrate light onto multi-junction cells, CPV technology already offers yields more than twice as high those of standard photovoltaic technologies.