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27 December 2013

Soitec to receive €21.3m in French government support after EC approves financing

Earlier in December, concentrating photovoltaic (CPV) system maker Soitec of Bernin, France was informed that the European Commission (EC) has approved financing for the five-year Gupard program, which was launched in May 2012 to develop a new generation of highly efficient photovoltaic cells with unprecedented yield for use in CPV systems.

Gupard was selected in April 2012 as part of the low-carbon energy section of the French government program ‘Invest for the Future’ (Investissements d’Avenir), 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 program coordinator Soitec, Gupard brings together the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA), and the small/medium-size enterprise (SME) InPACT of Pomblière, France, which manufactures indium phosphide (InP) single-crystal wafers. For all partners collectively, the program represents a total investment of €68.9m over five years. The EC’s notification to the French government of its funding approval will give Soitec access to €21.3m in government support (€5.9m in direct subsidies and €15.4m in repayable advances). The firm says that approval demonstrates the value of the Gupard program in developing a high-added-value solar industry in France and in Europe based on CPV technology.

Gupard targets a major technical breakthrough: developing a new generation of solar cells to achieve previously unreachable efficiency in converting solar energy to electricity. Soitec reckons that, with its portfolio of key technologies in the transfer of semiconducting materials, it has the expertise and knowledge required to create four-junction solar cells. The efficiency record of 44.7% reached in September (following preliminary work carried out by Soitec with Fraunhofer ISE, CEA-Leti and Berlin’s Helmholtz Centre) confirms the viability of the four-junction concept, the firm adds.

“With the Gupard program, our ambition is to allow our CPV technology to achieve unequalled levels of efficiency and competitiveness,” notes Soitec’s chairman Andr-Jacques Auberton-Herv. The program is “strategically important not only for Soitec but also for the opportunities it will create in France and the rest of Europe,” he adds. “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.”

Tags: Soitec

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