Originally published in pv magazine, 2012.
– TAKING SOLAR POWER TO THE NEXT LEVEL
Solar Bankers LLC is an Arizona-based company in the field of renewable energy, focusing on solar power. Together with its sister company, Apollon Solar, it is one of the pioneers of next-generation photovoltaic solutions. With the development of a game-changing solar module and the grant of a U.S. patent, Solar Bankers plays a decisive role in the expansion of the global solar energy industry and is a key player in the quest to achieve grid parity.
Securing investment in today’s solar industry hinges on innovation and technological advances. The vision is to offer electricity from solar energy at prices comparable to electricity generated from fossil fuels – a concept also known as grid parity. Solar Bankers has developed modern production technologies for solar panels that significantly lower manufacturing costs, thus moving grid parity within our grasp. As a true technology leader, the company provides economically viable solar modules with unparalleled yields that surpass its competition.
Solar Bankers’ proprietary solution addresses the major downsides that make today’s photovoltaic technologies unprofitable. These disadvantages mainly arise from the high relative costs of the core raw material, silicon, as well as losses of efficiency caused by unsolved design challenges (e.g. cell spacing and shadows). Solar Bankers uses a unique concentrated technology that focuses incoming light rays to overcome these obstacles.This approach reduces the amount of silicon required in the production process by over 90 % and simultaneously raises the efficiency of the individual PV cell to unmatched levels.
Using a holographic film, Solar Bankers’ module is currently able to focus light rays by a factor of 10. Existing technology will increase this figure up to an estimated factor of 30, while the amount of silicon will be reduced further, from 10 % to 5 % of that used in a conventional solar panel.
Solar Bankers uses materials that provide a sunlight conversion rate of 28 %, placing it well above standard silicon cells (17 %) and the latest thin-film modules (8 %). In 2011, Solar Bankers was also granted a U.S. patent for a high-concentration refraction module with an integrated inverter. The low production costs and high-efficiency allow rates as low as 65 U.S. cents per Watt, a phenomenal price for solar power.
Among other trans-national endeavors, Solar Bankers recently agreed with the government of Sri Lanka to build a 110 MW solar park with a total investment of 350,000,000 USD. At current per capita consumption rates, the company will provide tens of thousands of Sri Lankan households with inexpensive, green energy each year for the decades to come.
Alfred Jost, President/CEO of Solar Bankers, served as Head of Product Development and Structured Finance at J.P. Morgan for many years before turning his attention towards the acquisition and debt restructuring of companies in financial distress. From 2008 onward, Alfred Jost has increasingly become involved in the important and growing field of renewable energy.
Why did you decide to move into such a volatile market?
A. Jost: “The circumstances are in fact somewhat problematic. Nevertheless, our new module fulfills the stringent demands the energy market puts on us: 1$ = 1 Wp for every sold unit. My approach was to make the existing technology more efficient – in this case, reduce the amount of silicon used in the production process.”
Where do you see opportunities? How do you view the current state of the PV industry?
A. Jost: “In the past, the industry has relied on feed-in tariffs. This dependence has developed into a disadvantage for the solar market within the last months. Attaining grid parity, now more than ever, is vital and requires completely new approaches and out-of-the-box thinking. Today, everybody is going green – consequently, solar panels must become household products! It is my vision to fuel developments in this direction.”
How are you going to achieve this?
A. Jost: “The key is to provide investors with sound financing opportunities. I am not reinventing the wheel here, but just learning lessons from other, unrelated markets. One good example is the automobile industry. In the near future, the solar companies that combine the most innovative products, the best possible service and the most competent salespeople will dominate the industry.”
Do you believe the solar industry has a future?
A. Jost: “Yes. By forming alliances with manufacturers, financiers and R&D, we can improve our products, not only by raising the efficiency of the individual cell, but especially by optimizing light incidence.” –