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Suniva – Poses Good Challenge to Chinese with High Efficiency,Low Cost Artisun Solar Panels- Technology,Products and Suniva IPO Stock Prospects

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Suniva is the only crystalline solar Solar Companies in the US which has been able to survive and thrive in recent times.Sunpower too has resurrected itself through strategic JVs and acquisitions.The main reason for the decline of the US  solar companies has been the severe competition from the low cost Chinese Solar Industry.This has made companies like Energy Conversion Devices and Evergreen Solar shut down US factories  and look towards Mexico and China to build low cost factories.However Suniva has managed to face all these competitive threats quite successfully and is looking to expand capacity in the US by building a 400 MW factory.The company even refused a DOE Loan Guarantee saying that the terms were too onerous.The company has manged to raise more then $130 million in equity and has won contracts to supply high efficiency solar cells to the Asian companies which is a first.Suniva differentiates itself through its technology which allows the production of high efficiency monocrystalline solar cells at lower cost.Note Sunpower makes the highest efficiency cells in the world in the range of 22-24% but its cost structure is too high.Suniva is looking to challenge the Taiwanese Cell Producers by marrying higher efficiency with lower cost.

Suniva Products

Suniva is focused on the design and manufacture of photovoltaic solar cells and high efficient solar panels marketed as the ARTisun® product series.Suniva does not produce solar panels on its own which it outsource to Chinese module makers.It concentrates its energies in production of solar cells and marketing of  the solar cells and panels under the Artisun brandname.

Suniva Solar Panels

Suniva’s has a capacity of 170 MW located in Norcross, Georgia in 2010 after starting with a small 32 MW Solar Cell Factory.The company sells Solar Panels ART245-60-3-1 which are based on the monocrystalline silicon technology.The Company only lists this Solar Module on its website which has  245 Watts of Power Rating and is composed of 60 Solar Cells.

Suniva Technology

Suniva was spun out of Georgia Institute of Technology’s University Center of Excellence in Photovoltaics (UCEP)  using  the work of Dr. Ajeet Rohatgi in 2007 who is the founder and director of the photovoltaic (PV) research program.Suniva produces 17+% – 20% efficient cells. Currently, Suniva is producing 20%+ in the lab, and the world’s highest commercially available cell efficiency in full-scale low-cost production, at 19%.Suniva’s plan is to increase cell efficiency to 20+% by 2011 using low cost processes and no exotic materials.Note most of the monocrystalline solar cell producers have cell efficiencies of between 16-18%.

Ion Implantation Differentiator (compared to normal Diffusion Processes)

it is working with Varian Semiconductor to use ion implantation of boron in the manufacture of solar cells.  ARTisun Star is scheduled for production in the first quarter of 2012 with targeted cell efficiencies that will approach 20 percent.It is already using ion implantation of phosphorous on p-type wafers to achieve 19 percent efficiency on its second generation ARTisun Select cells

Suniva IPO Prospects

Suniva is in need of funds to build a 400 MW factory in Michigan but after having rejected DOE,Suniva’s plans of expanding capacity seems fuzzy currently.Note Evergreen has used generous subsidies in capital,loans and land to build a factory in China.Suniva which seems to use its American origins as a USP might not go the Evergreen way.Note the 2 biggies of US Solar Industry Sunpower and First Solar manufacture most of their Solar Panels outside the US.Suniva has no plans for IPO but a Stock Listing might give it the funds required though valuations being given to solar companeis are not that great.


Abhishek Shah

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