Solaria wins 'Popular Mechanics' 2011 Breakthrough Awards

Solaria wins 'Popular Mechanics' 2011 Breakthrough AwardsSolaria Corp., a Fremont, Calif.-based photovoltaic manufacturer, was named one of The 10 Most Innovative Tech Products of 2011 by Popular Mechanics. The company was awarded the recognition for developing photovoltaic modules that significantly reduced the amount of silicon semiconductors needed in them while maintaining the efficiency of comparable modules.

The awards recognize products available today that are pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in terms of technology.

Popular Mechanics celebrated the awardees at a ceremony in New York City on Oct. 10 and published the results in its November 2011 issue, which came out Oct. 11.

“We’re thrilled to have Solaria’s solar panels honored by Popular Mechanics, a magazine that has a long history of bringing intelligence about technology to its readers,” Solaria CEO Dan Shugar said in a press release.

Solaria was awarded for developing modules using its cell multiplication technology, which Popular Mechanics said led to modules that cost one-third less than photovoltaics (PVs) of similar efficiency.

While other companies like Amonix have developed high-concentrating photovoltaics, which can focus 1,000 or more times the sunlight on a small, high-efficiency gallium arsenide photovoltaic cell, the price for those cells is much greater than for silicon photovoltaics, hence requiring the greater concentration.

With Solaria’s low-concentrating PV technology it can take advantage of lower-cost PV materials while using industry-standard production equipment, both of which help reduce cost.

“Using a proprietary singulation and packaging process, Solaria delivers high-efficiency, improved system performance, and kilowatt hour cost reduction crucial to market growth,” Shugar said. “Because our technology draws on existing science, any improvement in standard cells—efficiency, thickness, silicon cost—directly amplifies the benefits of our platform.”

The company is capable of producing 50 megawatts of modules now and plans to expand more in 2012. Since its products use less silicon, additional manufacturing capacity can be added quicker and at a lower cost-per-watt than other technologies, according to a white paper from the company.