Fayetteville-based WattGlass partners with one of the world’s largest solar panel companies

by Jennifer Joyner (JJoyner@nwabj.com) 402 views 

WattGlass, a Fayetteville-based startup, has partnered with the publicly-traded solar panel manufacturer Yingli Green Energy Holding Co. Limited, Yingli announced Monday (Sept. 11).

WattGlass makes anti-fog and anti-reflection coatings for glass and other transparent materials. China-based Yingli is one of the largest solar panel companies in the world, ranking within the top 10 in solar panel shipments in 2015, according to energy market analysis firm GlobalData.

The U.S. Department of Energy last year awarded WattGlass a $679,413 grant under its SunShot Initiative to continue work on its water-based, nano-engineered technology. SunShot Initiative supports private companies, universities and national laboratories in efforts to drive down the cost of solar energy, looking to make it fully cost-competitive with traditional energy sources before the end of the decade, according to the energy department. The goal is 6 cents per kilowatt-hour.

Yingli and WattGlass are planning for 2018 a pilot demonstration of WattGlass’ technology on Yingli’s products, according to a press release.

“The WattGlass coating will provide an immediate advantage over competing technologies and the Yingli team is world-class at moving technologies from the lab to full-scale manufacturing,” WattGlass CEO Corey Thompson said in the press release.

Sergiu Pop, director of business development for Yingli Americas, said in a statement the company is working with WattGlass as part of its focus on value.

“WattGlass coating is an example of this commitment as it enables higher power outputs while also reducing the maintenance costs for project owners,” Pop said in the statement. “We are evaluating the technology for implementation across our product lines and are excited to be working with WattGlass.”

Another Fayetteville-based startup, Picasolar, last year was awarded a $2 million SunShot award and entered into a partnership with Yingli. The team has worked during that time to make solar energy more efficient by applying Picasolar’s selective emitter technology to a specific kind of solar cells, N-type silicon cells.

Picasolar CEO Douglas Hutchings gave an update on the project through a statement. “Over the past year we have transitioned from optimizing the process on custom-built lab cells all the way to demonstrations on cells pulled directly from manufacturing. We are working with potential funding sources to establish U.S.-based equipment manufacturing and look forward to the next stage of our growth with Yingli.”

Within the first year of the partnership, “absolute efficiency improvements exceeding 0.3% absolute have been demonstrated on production cells,” according to Yingli. The team also completed reliability testing and is now working to continue to improve efficiency and scale up the manufacturing equipment, according to Yingli.

“Module efficiency is one of the largest levers available to continue driving down the cost-per-watt,” Pop said in a statement. “The technology developed by Picasolar not only improves conversion efficiencies but also enables us to further optimize the grid spacing to save on silver. Ultimately this delivers more value to our customers.”

Picasolar and WattGlass are located in the Arkansas Research & Technology Park.

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