Arnhem, the Netherlands, April 7, 2006 — Akzo Nobel has agreed to sell its pioneering Helianthos solar cell production venture to Dutch energy company Nuon. Financial details have not been disclosed.
Helianthos was operated together with Shell Solar to pave the way for the commercial manufacture of flexible solar cells, with the partnership ending just over 12 months ago after Shell changed the focus of its strategy. Following Akzo Nobel’s own strategic realignment of its Chemicals portfolio, it has now been decided that the business will have better prospects for growth and development in the hands of a new owner.
“Although this is an exciting venture which utilizes new technology with excellent market potential, it no longer fits in with our refocused activities,” explained Leif Darner, the company’s Board member responsible for Chemicals. “It was important that we found a new owner who could fully exploit Helianthos’ very promising long-term prospects and we are confident that Nuon will be able to successfully take the program forward.”
Peter Erich, Board Member of Nuon, added: “Helianthos is a promising activity, which will make households and companies take the renewable production of electricity in their own hands. With our knowledge of the market and our experience in the field of renewable energy, we are well-placed to take the development of this technology to the next phase."
Details regarding the transfer of employees to the new owner are being discussed, with the transaction expected to be finalized in the second quarter of 2006. Unions and employee representative bodies have been informed and consultation procedures will begin shortly, where applicable. Regulatory approvals will also be sought as and where appropriate.
Launched by Akzo Nobel in 1997 and operated in partnership with Shell Solar from 2001, Helianthos has developed unique and patented technology for the roll-to-roll manufacture of flexible solar cell laminates. The key to this solar cell production program is Helianthos’ thin film deposition technology, which utilizes an ultra- thin film—20 times thinner than a human hair—as part of the manufacturing process.
The Helianthos team is supported by a strong network, including top European universities and R&D institutes, and has successfully secured subsidies from Dutch and European funding bodies.