Alta Devices was founded in 2007 and is focused on making solar power cost competitive with fossil fuels and accessible anywhere the sun shines. Using a variety of proprietary manufacturing techniques and a unique approach to device design, Alta has invented the world’s thinnest and highest efficiency solar cells. Alta’s flexible cells hold the world records for cell and module efficiency, and are ideal for incorporating into roofing and building materials, providing power for air and ground transportation, enabling cost effective distributed and off–grid power generation, and for deployment in utility scale solar farms. Alta is currently a development stage company and has received venture capital funding from August Capital, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Crosslink Capital, AIMCo and others. The company is based in Sunnyvale, CA.
We’ve always considered efficiency, which is a measure of how much of the sun’s energy is converted to electricity, to be the most important aspect of solar cell performance. In fact, our company is founded on the basic principle that very high efficiency solar cells are the single most important lever in reducing the overall cost of solar electricity. This is because most of the costs of a solar power plant, including the modules, the land, labor, hardware and wiring are directly proportional to the physical size of the plant. Given this large fixed cost, increasing the amount of energy generated per unit area decreases the cost of the electricity produced. Simply put, higher efficiency solar cells deliver more energy per unit area, dividing down the costs associated with the power plant and resulting in lower cost electricity.
About a year and a half ago, Alta began producing solar cells with efficiencies that exceeded the existing world records for these types of cells. In fact, our highest performing cells routinely exceed 28%. However, to be useful, these cells need to be packaged in environmentally protective modules, introducing optical losses due to reflections and other mechanisms. So we are especially proud that we have recently delivered solar modules incorporating our technology with efficiencies of 23.5%. This establishes a new world record, certified by the National Renewable Energy Laboratories (NREL) for the highest efficiency solar modules ever produced.
Alta’s technology has the potential to herald in a new era where solar electricity is cost competitive with all types of energy generation, without the need for government subsidies.
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