Injection molder Nypro Inc. has invested $1 million in solar energy startup Morgan Solar Inc. and will manufacture light-guide solar optics (LSOs) for the Toronto company's photovoltaic panels, which are expected to be on the market sometime next year.
The investment is the first made by New Ventures Group LLC, which Clinton, Mass.-based Nypro formed as a subsidiary 13 months ago to invest in innovative and green technologies.
Company spokesman Al Cotton said Oct. 14 that Nypro will do the molding, assembly and final testing of the LSOs for Morgan Solar's concentrated photovoltaic panel, called Sun Simba HCPV, which is designed for electric utilities.
Nypro said it is looking at a number of sites in North America for short-term manufacturing and several global sites for production at a later point.
According to Morgan Solar, the panels will convert 26-30 percent of the sun's energy into electricity, compared with the 20 percent conversion rate for mono- and multi-crystalline solar panels, and 10 percent for thin-film solar panels.
According to Solar, the panels will be less expensive to make than thin-film panels, currently the preference of utilities, and silicone-based solar panels.
We don't know if [the solar energy market] will be successful, but we think it has the potential, said Jim Buonomo, chief financial officer and chief strategic officer for Nypro, in an address to employees at the Nypro Sustainability Roundtable in Mebane earlier this month.
He said the company's investment amounts to a 4 percent stake in Morgan Solar, and the company's financial commitment to Morgan Solar is our affirmation that it is going to work.
Morgan Solar announced Oct. 8 that it has secured $4.7 million in financing, including Nypro's stake.
Other investors include Turnstone Capital Management LLC in New York, with a $1.2 million investment, and Inversiones Financieras Perseo LC, the venture initiative of Iberdrola Group of Bilbao, Spain, the largest electric utility in that country, which invested $2.5 million.
Morgan Solar hopes to raise a total of $8.5 million so it can build a prototype plant in Toronto and move toward commercial production in 2010.
The company, founded in 2007 by physics engineer John Paul Morgan, previously had raised $1.5 million in seed funding from the Canadian government and the province of Ontario. John Morgan is the company's chief technology officer.
Iberdrola also is one of the five largest electrical utilities globally. Its Iberdrola Renovables SA subsidiary is a major investor in renewable energy it operates 10,000 megawatts of clean energy production and has renewable energy projects under way with total capacity of 56,000 megawatts.
The company has raised $2 billion to expand in North America, and has received $500 million in grants in the past month from the U.S. Department of Energy to support construction of wind and solar projects.
As far as Nypro's part in the project, the investment is part of an effort to make the $1.2 billion global company the leader among plastic injection molders when it comes to sustainability.
Today, at Nypro, we are beginning to enter new markets such as solar, clean technology and other mainstays of the sustainability movement through our New Venture Group, Buonomo said.
He said it is Nypro's intent to find ideas it can commercialize and use to provide for the needs of mankind, while continuing to build our business.
Michael Fallon, vice president and general manager of New Ventures Group, said the solar technology fits Nypro's plans perfectly.
Nypro is constantly looking for innovations that have the potential to dramatically change an industry [and that present] synergies with our core strengths in injection molding and contract manufacturing.
We wanted to enter the solar energy market and we were looking for a next-generation technology, Fallon said in a prepared statement.
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