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Posted: March 4, 2010

Konica Minolta and Konarka Join Forces to Develop Organic Thin-Film Photovoltaics

(Nanowerk News) Konica Minolta Holdings, Inc. (Konica Minolta) is pleased to announce that the company and Konarka Technologies Inc. (Konarka), located in Massachusetts, U.S.A., have signed a comprehensive business partnership and capital investment agreement regarding development and distribution of organic thin-film photovoltaics, and have reached a basic agreement to start full-scale collaboration.
Background and purpose of the business partnership
Today, concerns over depletion of fossil fuels and environmental impacts of global warming resulting from increases in CO2 emissions are growing, and the world is faced with serious environmental threats. Against this backdrop, high expectations are placed on photovoltaic power generation as an infinite, clean energy. In fact, the photovoltaic power generation related market is expanding rapidly on a global basis.
While a number of companies and research institutions have already begun to consider and work on power generation through various measures, Konica Minolta and Konarka will pursue the development of organic thin-film photovoltaics, which can be mass-produced by means of the “roll-to-roll” method based on the film coating technology. The result will be photovoltaics with higher cost competitiveness that cannot be realized by other manufacturing methods, and substantial decreases in energy costs – energy cost per 1kWh borne by the users. Furthermore, lightweight and flexible characteristics of the organic thin-film enable it to be used in a wider range of new applications.
Konica Minolta position the organic thin-film photovoltaic business as one of the new promising pillar businesses in the environment and energy field, next to the OLED (organic light emitting diode) lighting business, of which we have already announced mass production applying our photographic film manufacturing technology. Our partner, Konarka, is among the first and world leading to commercialize the organic thin-film photovoltaics by taking advantage of their state-of-the-art polymer materials technology to achieve the world’s highest level of conversion efficiency. Also, they have a mass production facility in New Bedford, Massachusetts, U.S.A.
Orchestrating respective strengths in materials, optical, and coating technologies, Konica Minolta and Konarka will begin joint development in April 2010, with an aim to drastically improve organic thin-film photovoltaic performance -- conversion efficiency, a longer life and manufacturing cost to realize mass production of next-generation photovoltaics.
Outline of the partnership
  • Konica Minolta and Konarka will begin comprehensive collaboration in joint development and distribution beginning April 2010.
  • Konica Minolta invested US$20million in Konarka.
  • Having verified the successful results of the joint development milestones, Konica Minolta and Konarka will establish a joint venture company in Japan to jointly produce organic thin-film photovoltaic panels. In terms of the production of organic thin-film photovoltaic panels, Konica Minolta will begin collaboration with Konarka as their lead Asian business partner headquartered in Japan.
  • Konica Minolta will supply high-performance barrier (encapsulation) film, which is an important component of organic thin-film photovoltaics, to Konarka. Additionally, the joint venture company will undertake production of such super barrier film.
  • The comprehensive agreement with Konarka has provided Konica Minolta with a sound platform to promote the organic thin-film photovoltaic business to become the pillar business in the environment and energy field, together with the OLED lighting business.
    The market for environment and energy is expected to further expand in the coming years. We will concentrate our management resources in this field in our efforts to ensure dynamic growth of the Konica Minolta Group and maximize our corporate value.
    About Konarka Technologies, Inc.
    Konarka develops and manufactures solar plastic films that convert light to energy – anywhere. As the leading developer of polymer-based, organic photovoltaic (OPV) technology that provides a source of renewable power in a variety of form factors, Konarka has a broad portfolio of patents, technology licenses and an accomplished technical, scientific and manufacturing team. Manufactured at low cost and low energy consumption, the company's Konarka Power Plastic® technology is lightweight, flexible, scalable and adaptable for use in a variety of commercial, industrial, government and consumer applications. Konarka Technologies is headquartered in Lowell, Mass., U.S.A. and has a full scale production manufacturing facility in New Bedford, Mass. U.S.A., with European headquarters in Nurnberg, Germany, business development offices in Asia and a research and development facility in Austria.
    Source: Konica Minolta (press release)
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