Who is Nanosolar, Inc.

Nanosolar is a private developer under the solar energy industry that was founded in 2002 by Martin Roscheisen and Brian Sager. Their headquarter is based in San Jose, California, United States. Nanosolar developed and briefly commercialized solar panels and a low-cost printable solar cell manufacturing process. Additionally, Nanosolar is considered a start-up company in the clean-tech sector and it was expected to be one of the first manufacturers to produce thin-film solar panels made from copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) technology. Although this technology is considered less efficient in producing electricity than polysilicon, it is still considerably less costly than the first one. 

In mid-December 2007, the commercial company started selling thin-film Copper Indium Gallium Selenide (CIGS) solar panels and decided to sell them at 99 cents per watt, which is much cheaper in the market during that time. In the same year, they got 3,100,000 US dollar revenue. However, prices for crystalline silicon-based solar panels declined significantly during the proceeding years, which then reduced most of the solar cost advantage of Nanosolar. Furthermore, Nanosolar had laid off 75 percent of its workforce by February 2013. Also, in August 2013, Nanosolar began auctioning off its equipment as Martin Roscheisen–Co-Founder of Nanosolar stated on his personal blog that Nanosolar has ultimately failed commercially and that he will not enter this solar industry again because of the slow-development process cycle, complex production issues and the impact of cheaper solar power production from China. 

Nevertheless, Nanosolar still produced less than 50 MW of solar power capacity since its founding year despite having raised an investment of more than 400 million dollars. It came from a long list of investors which includes Benchmark Capital, MDV, EDF Group, GLG Partners, Firelake Capital Management, Lone Pine Capital, Grazia Equity, SAC Capital, Swiss Re, Grazia Equity Nanosolar and U.S. Venture Partners. Martin Roscheisen was the founding CEO of Nanosolar, Inc through the year 2010, followed by Geoff Tate who became the CEO for about two years, displaced by Eugenia Corrales and who in turn was replaced by Karl Steigele.

Moreover, the Company still offers utility panels for power plants and lightweight solar electric cell foil and Nanosolar is still conducting business worldwide.

Nanosolar Inc’s Manufacturing and Financial Sponsors

Since the Nanosolar was founded in 2002, the company has received financing from a vast number of technology investors which include Mohr Davidow Ventures, Benchmark Capital and the founders of Google–Larry Page and Sergey Brin. The Nanosolar received the largest financial support with 100 million USD of new funding secured from Venture Capital technology, which was being funded by United States companies during the second quarter of 2006. While in the 1st quarter, it also received the largest financing amount of around 300 USD million from various private companies in 2008. With this, Nanosolar planned to build a large production facility with an annual capacity of 430 megawatts in San Jose, and at Luckenwalde (Berlin) in Germany. Due to government subsidies in Germany, solar energy has been favoured in the German economy that made several venture capital companies and even German energy companies seriously invested large amounts of finance in Nanosolar, inc.

In December 2007, the company announced that Nanosolar had started the production of solar cells in its factory located in San Jose, CA., with its German facility condemned to go into operation in the 1st quarter of the year 2008. Furthermore, the company stated that if the factory in San Jose will be fully built in the year 2006, it would achieve the capacity to produce 430 megawatts of cells for each year. While in December 2007, the company started launching and shipping its first solar panels for a one-megawatt municipal power plant in Germany.

Whereas, in 2008 Nanosolar managed to raise about 500 million USD in the total funding by private investors like Mitsui Ventures, Mohr Davidow Ventures, Capricorn Management, Benchmark Capital, OnPoint, GLG Partners, Firelake Capital Management, Lone Pine Capital, EDF Ventures, Grazia Equity, Energy Capital Partners, Swiss Re, Beck Energy, Omidyar Network, Riverstone Holdings, EDS (HP), The Carlyle Group and The Skoll Foundation.

Nanosolar announced on February 17, 2012, that they had achieved a solar capacity of 115MW, with the 20 million dollars additional funding to expand more the manufacturing capacity and the NREL Thin-Film Solar Aperture Efficiency of 17.1 percent. This achieved capacity is just over one-quarter of the 430 megawatts predicted five years ago.

People Behind Nanosolar, Inc.

Karl Steigele | Chief Executive Officer

Karl Steigele became the President and Chief Operating Officer in Nanosolar incorporation since he joined in September 2012 and now he serves as the company’s Chief Executive Officer. Before joining the Nanosolar, Inc., Steigele was the founder and president of Steigele Consulting, Inc.,– a management consulting firm focusing on helping companies to prepare and execute their growth strategies. Mr. Steigele is a Bachelor’s degree holder in Production Engineering from the University of Applied Science Heilbronn, Germany, and he also earned a Toolmaker degree at the then Daimler-Benz AG (Mercedes).

Ravi Balaji | Vice President, Cell Operations

Ravi Balaji joined Nanosolar in October 2010 as a vice president of Cell Operations. From 2006 to 2010, Ravi held various senior management positions at Solyndra, lastly as senior director of Operations at Solyndra’s Fab-1, where Ravi was instrumental in ramping up the factory to a production rate of 16 MW/qtr. Ravi is a master’s degree holder in Materials Science from The University of Texas at Austin and holder of a bachelor’s degree in Metallurgy from the Indian Institute of Technology in Chennai, India.  

John Bender | Vice President, Supply Chain

John Bender a bachelor’s degree holder in Mechanical Engineering from Case Western Reserve University and has also completed executive coursework at Harvard University including The General Manager Program (TGMP). Before joining Nanosolar, Inc., Bender was the founder and at the same time, the CEO of Bender Consulting–a boutique management consulting firm focused on complex business transformation. Then, he joined Nanosolar in May 2011 as a Vice President, and Supply Chain. Prior to that, Bender also served for more than 15 years at Hewlett-Packard Company in a wide variety of cross-functional leadership- and executive roles including supply chain, manufacturing, R&D and a vice-president of Corporate Strategy. 

Mirco Boldt | VP Panel Operations, Managing Director Nanosolar GmbH

Mirco Boldt joined Nanosolar in December 2008 and now serves as a Vice President of Panel Operations and a Managing Director of Nanosolar GmbH–the fully-automated, panel-assembly factory located in Luckenwalde, Germany. Before joining Nanosolar, Mirco Boldt spent more than 10 years working for BMW AG in a wide variety of cross-functional leadership roles and project lead on new BMW motorcycle technology and other related manufacturing. He is a professional electrical engineer and has been published in industry journals on “innovative conveyor technology for future assembly factory.”

Dave Jackrel | Vice President, Research and Development

Dave Jackrel leads Nanosolar’s R&D as a Research and Development Vice President. Prior to joining Nanosolar in 2007, Jackrel finished his post-doctoral research at Stanford University. His educational and work background includes more than 13 years of experience in photovoltaic research and development including thin-film solar cells projects, nano-structured architectures, III-V materials for multi-junction cells, and packaging of modules. Dave is a holder of a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University, and an MS and a Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering from Stanford University.

David Wilson | Chief Financial Officer

David Wilson is a Chartered Accountant and holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Birmingham, UK. David joined Nanosolar in November 2012 as a chief financial officer of Nanosolar company. Prior to joining the Nanosolar,  David was a former EVP, treasurer and chief financial officer of Alaska Communications, where he was a leading driver of strategy, process re-engineering and cost reduction initiatives. Also, he served as the CFO of Triumph Communications, a subsidiary of Hughes Electronics, and he was appointed as CFO of DIRECTV Broadband, after serving as VP of Finance and Chief Accounting Officer. 

Nanosolar Technology Overview

Nanosolar set out to reform solar energy manufacturing processes in 2002, and by 2010 Nanosolar had launched the first solar modules and set it ready for field installations. The company manufactured CIGS solar cells using the thin-film technology and semiconductor materials that are made up of Copper, Indium, Gallium, and Selenium. These materials minimized the manufacturing equipment cost. Also, CIGS solar cells achieved up to 19.9 percent solar efficiency in laboratory samples and devices during that time which indicates the potential of the thin-film technology to complete with the efficiency of crystalline silicon-based solar panels in the next few years. 

Moreover,  the printing process is quicker and easier to deposit a uniform layer of the ink, resulting in a layer with the correct ratio of elements on the whole area of the substrate. Also, there is less waste of material since the ink is printed only in the areas where it is needed. Last, the substrate material where the ink is being printed is much more conducive and cheaper than the stainless steel substrates. The CIGS solar cells offers the needs for efficiency, a low cost, and device longevity. In addition to that it is easy to install because it is flexible and lightweight. 

Nanosolar Technological Innovation on Solar Cell 

  1. Uses a cell substrate and bottom electrode made up of highly conducive and low-cost aluminum foil.
  2. The ink of CIGS has a high-yield and pre-defined ratio, use in the printing process to form an electrode-grade CIGS semiconductor.
  3. Has thin and printed transparent top electrode.
  4. Has Novel Metal-wrap-through (MWT) back-contact design which is based on high-throughput foil lamination.

Reviews on Nanosolar, Inc.

How Nanotechnology is boosting Solar energy

Nanosolar’s thin-film solar power

Nanosolar Technology Overview

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