Cambridge Enterprise, the University of Cambridge’s commercialisation office, and the Carbon Trust today announced the launch of Eight19 Limited, a new solar energy company which will develop and manufacture high performance, lower cost plastic solar cells for high-growth volume markets.
Bright future for British solar
Spun-out from the Carbon Trust’s Cambridge University-TTP Advanced Photovoltaic Research Accelerator, this latest commercial phase will focus efforts on developing product prototypes, backed by a £4.5m investment from the Carbon Trust and leading international specialty chemicals company Rhodia.
Eight19, so called as it takes eight minutes and 19 seconds for light to travel from the sun to the earth, has been created in partnership with Professor Sir Richard Friend, Professor Henning Sirringhaus and Professor Neil Greenham of Cambridge’s internationally renowned Cavendish Laboratory, and technology development company TTP.
With improvements in efficiency and lifetime, breakthroughs in organic photovoltaic technology could provide solar power at a price substantially lower than that offered by 1st and 2nd generation technologies for certain applications, which could open up new markets for solar.
Eight19’s focus on the low cost potential of solar cells made with semiconducting plastics (also known as organic photovoltaics, or OPV) is built on the Cavendish Laboratory’s capability to develop techniques for fabricating large scale plastic electronic devices on flexible materials using roll-to-roll processes. The company will continue to be actively engaged with the Cavendish and its innovative research output.
The market for organic solar cells has the potential to reach $500 million by 2015 and to grow four fold to $2 billion by 2020 (Nanomarkets, 2009) driven by applications such as buildingintegrated photovoltaics, and could save up to 900 million tonnes of CO2 by 2050 – some 1.5 times the UK’s current annual emissions.
The Eight19 team is pursuing a design-for-manufacture strategy that focuses on the unique attributes of organic photovoltaics, combining both specific product performance characteristics and low cost of energy.
Unlike other more familiar thin film solar platforms, organic solar cells are not inherently limited by constraints around material supply and toxicity, and benefit from a number of fundamental advantages including potentially very low cost production enabled by low temperature and high throughput processing typical of plastic films. Organic solar cells potentially deliver further value throughout the supply chain, from ease of installation for construction companies to producers seeking simplified manufacturing integration.
Dr Robert Trezona, Head of R&D at the Carbon Trust said, “The launch of Eight19 and the deployment of low cost organic solar cells could help to revolutionise solar power production by opening up new markets. Cost reduction through the development of advanced technology and innovative design are key to driving forward mass production and making solar power more affordable.”
“This investment is perfectly in line with our strategy to explore new promising market segments fitting with our sustainable development commitment. Furthermore, we are convinced that open innovation is key to leverage our research and development capability. We are happy to work in close partnership with prominent scientists to develop this breakthrough technology”, explains Pascal Juery, Group Executive Vice-President of Rhodia.
Professor Sir Richard Friend, Co-founder of Eight19 commented, “This represents a great opportunity to transfer new technology out of the university, based on recent advances in fundamental science. Solar cells made with organic semiconductors work very differently to those made with silicon and are closer in operating principle to photosynthesis in green plants."
A world class management team underpins the technology development, with significant track record in making low cost applications using scalable roll-to-roll technology. Co-founder and Board Director Professor Sir Richard Friend is a world expert who pioneered the study of the electronic properties of a class of plastics called conjugated polymers and revolutionised the understanding of using these materials to make plastic semiconductors. He also previously cofounded Cambridge Display Technology (CDT) and Plastic Logic.
Cambridge Enterprise Limited is a wholly owned subsidiary of the University of Cambridge, responsible for the commercialisation of University intellectual property. Activities include management and licensing of intellectual property and patents, proof of concept funding and support for University staff and research groups wishing to provide expert advice or facilities to public and private sector organisations. Cambridge Enterprise provides access to angel and early stage capital through the Cambridge Enterprise Seed Funds and Cambridge Enterprise Venture Partners, and offers business planning, mentoring, and other related programmes.
Over the past two years, income from licensing, consultancy and equity transactions exceeded £18 million, of which £14 million represents distributions to University departments and
About The Carbon Trust
The Carbon Trust is a not-for-profit company with the mission to accelerate the move to a low carbon economy, providing specialist support to business and the public sector to help cut carbon emissions, save energy and commercialise low carbon technologies. By stimulating low carbon action we contribute to key UK goals of lower carbon emissions, the development of low carbon businesses, increased energy security and associated jobs.
We help to cut carbon emissions now by
• Providing specialist advice and finance to help organisations cut carbon
• Setting standards for carbon reduction
We reduce potential future carbon emissions by
• Opening markets for low carbon technologies
• Leading industry collaborations to commercialise technologies
• Investing in early stage low carbon companies
The Technology Partnership plc (TTP)
Europe’s leading independent technology and product development company and creates new business based on advances in technology. TTP specialises in medical devices, instrumentation, consumer and industrial products, digital printing, communications, cleantech and security systems. Established in 1987, TTP is headquartered in Melbourn (near Cambridge, UK). www.ttp.com
For more information please contact:
Cambridge Enterprise Limited
Tel: +44 (0)1223 760 339
Mob: +44 (0)7500 883 612
Carbon Trust press office
Tel: 0207 544 3100
Cambridge Enterprise exists to help University of Cambridge inventors, innovators and entrepreneurs make their ideas and concepts more commercially successful for the benefit of society, the UK economy, the inventors and the University.