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Reducing levelised cost of energy, key to attract more consumers

August 2, 2019 2:02 pm

Reducing levelised cost of energy, key to attract more consumers

We believe our solution presents the Holy Grail technology for the solar market, replacing PERC bifacial technology as the future solution.
Avishai Drori, CEO, SolAround

Avishai Drori, CEO, SolAround, in a conversation with Megha Iyer enlightens on the significant role of bifacial solar cells in improving the solar production and how the low levelised cost of energy can play a significant role in transforming the smart city.

Please walk us through the journey of SolAround till now.
SolAround was founded in 2014 in Israel, by a team of world experts in the photovoltaic field, who possess extensive experience the industrial production of solar cell, solar PV cells and solar modules. Our founders are Dr. Lev Kreinin, Co-founder and renowned scientist, Prof. Emeritus Naftali Eisenberg, co-founder and leading scientist in micro-optics, nano-optics and PV cells; and Dr. Yossi Kofman – Electronic Engineer, and serial entrepreneur in Israel. 40 years ago, in Russia, bifacial solar cells were utilised for wings of satellites, to enhance the energy balance. Bifacial cells, were by then, highly expensive, but our team through extensive and methodical work in the past years built a process to bring down these costs.

We originally founded a company in 2008 called bSolar, which manufactured and sold solar cells, as well as certified bifacial PV modules together with German companies. Since bifacial technology wasn’t familiar and fully bankable in the industry at 2012, it was a big task for us to penetrate the market but the company succeeded to execute several significant transactions. But, when the Chinese industry reduced the cost of solar cells by 60 – 70 per cent within 1 year, western solar industries were shut out of the market. But, we were fortunate enough to have founded SolAround, where we established our second generation product that is much more advanced in terms of technology. Most of our cell experiments and other research and development activities are performed in the ISC (International Solar Energy) Research Centre, our collaborators in Konstanz, Germany.

Who are your potential clients?
Our core target market is the top tier PV manufacturers in China, who primarily seek to acquire novel cell technologies rather than developing in-house such technologies, and large utilities entering the solar market, looking for strategic technologies to support their penetration into the market. SolAround will provide these companies with unique technology through licensing agreements. Another target are the giant silicon manufacturers, which lately became vertical and in addition to their traditional activities also produce solar modules, solar systems and solar farms.

Our technology perfectly fits their needs since they enjoy both the low cost of cell production and the much higher energy efficiency and electricity production of the systems in the field. Some top-notch global utility companies are now venturing into solar productions and would also benefit from our solution. Our latest technology is ripe for the industry and was exhibited in June in Shanghai, where it received much interest from leading potential clients. SolAround is at the final stage of a first commercial agreement for a pilot production in an Asian country.

What are your specialised products and offerings?

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What can be the most critical or essential part of placing LCOE for the bifacial solutions? 
Bifacial solutions are most powerful, since they significantly reduce the LCOE to new levels and make the extra leap of solar industry the most economical energy source by far, compared to other options. Such change in the cost of energy will further benefit the end users as well. The lower the price, more will be the solar energy based consumption among the people.

How do you position yourself in the global market?
We believe our solution presents the Holy Grail technology for the solar market, replacing PERC bifacial technology as the future solution. In the last SNEC exhibition, we met several big manufacturers to discuss potential business opportunities and were told that the PERC technology will reach its maximum efficiency in the next 2 years, and a new, more advanced technology is being sought after.

Do you intend to extend your services to India?
We are already in discussions with one of the largest utility service providers in India, who is very interested in deploying our technology. India is developing significantly, the government is funding new technologies and we are seriously looking for strategic partners in India particularly in the PV solar space.

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