media release

Akzo Nobel seeking new partner for breakthrough solar cell project

Press Release - Akzo Nobel is looking for a new partner for a pioneering solar cell production program after its existing collaboration came to an end.

Christened Helianthos, the project – designed to pave the way for the commercial manufacture of flexible solar cells – was launched in July 2001 together with Shell Solar. Both parties have now agreed to end their development agreement, but Akzo Nobel is confident of finding a new partner with the relevant market expertise which is critical to the continuation of the project.

“This is an exciting project and we believe it is important to fully explore the market potential of this new technology, which we will seek to do with an appropriately qualified partner complementing our own capabilities,” explained Göran Dahlberg, Akzo Nobel’s Director of Corporate Strategy for Chemicals. “We do not exclude the future partner taking over the entire project at the appropriate time,” he added.

Under the original agreement, Akzo Nobel took on the technological development of roll-to-roll processes for the flexible solar cell modules and a pilot line for their manufacture has already been successfully set up. Continued Dahlberg: “Akzo Nobel owns the intellectual property rights to this new technology and we can now start to deliver prototype products.”

The key to Helianthos is its thin film deposition technology, which utilizes an extremely thin film – 20 times thinner than a human hair – as part of the manufacturing process. The project has made significant progress and created a lot of interest, but after being involved for three years, Shell Solar’s strategy changed focus and joint development was no longer feasible.

“Shell Solar has decided to concentrate on its own in-house technologies, rather than those in joint development,” explained Hans Willemsen, Executive Vice President, Shell Solar. “While Helianthos may have long-term potential, Shell Solar has to make clear choices now and in this light, Helianthos no longer fits our strategy.”

Other interested parties, such as educational and research institutes, have been informed of the situation and their involvement will be taken into account when any future partnership decisions are made.

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