Intel's New Business Initiatives is spinning
off one of its most promising units, a solar startup, in order to help it
obtain the investments that it needs to become
a leader in the industry. The new company is named SpectraWatt
Inc. Leading the initial investment round is Intel Capital, Intel's
global investment organization, with a $50 million investment. Joining Intel is a
powerful coalition of power corporations and interests, including Cogentrix
Energy, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc., PCG
Clean Energy and Technology Fund ("CETF") and Solon AG.
The business side of the transaction is
expected be wrapped up by the end of Q2 2008, leaving the company to get down
to its primary business -- the manufacturing of photovoltaic solar cells.
The company will mass produce the cells, which it will sell to panel
makers. Intel's hand is a logical one as making the silicon-based
photovoltaics is similar, on a most basic manufacturing level, to making
The company will focus especially on improving
manufacturing processes and capabilities to bring down costs of the
cells. It will also focus to a lesser extent on advanced solar
technologies, to improve efficiencies, to improve the value of the cells
sold. All these efforts will take place at the company's new
manufacturing and technology center in Oregon, which will begin to be
constructed by the end of Q2 2008 and is expected to be complete and start
shipping units by mid-2009.
Arvind Sodhani, president of Intel Capital and Intel executive vice president
says the new solar company is a fine example of
Intel's leading influence. He states, "SpectraWatt is a great
example of technology resulting from entrepreneurial efforts inside
Intel. This is an important investment for Intel Capital in the growing
cleantech sector and we look forward to working with the company to support its
On a most basic level, photovoltaic cells are the "circuit" part of
solar panels which convert sunlight to energy, via the photoelectric
effect. Photon Consulting, which tracks the market estimated than in 2007
the market for solar products amounted to $30 billion, up a whopping 50 percent from 2006. All this
amazing growth is even more unbelievable, when one considers that currently on
a per kilowatt basis, solar power costs
twice the price of traditional fossil fuel power, with capital expenses
factored in. This cost is expected to drop to a dead heat within a few
years, bringing with it a strong 30 to 40 percent yearly growth.
Intel's latest effort is just one more step in
its campaign to be "green" and promote environmental
responsibility. It is on track to reduce its total carbon emissions by 30
percent between 2004 and 2010. It also eliminated
lead and halogens from many of its microprocessors. Intel rests
atop the Environmental Protection Agency's Green Power list as the largest purchaser of green energy
Andrew B. Wilson, SpectraWatt CEO and former general manager in the Intel New
Business Initiatives group praises Intel's work, saying, "The formation of
SpectraWatt is an important step forward in the renewable energy market.
We are pleased to work with these companies in the goal of moving toward long-term
national energy independence."
Thomas Krupke, CEO of SOLON AG, a large European photovoltaic cell manufacturer
says the new company is extremely promising and has a bright future
ahead. He states, "We are very proud to be part of this exciting new
venture. With the experience and commitment of all companies involved, we
are confident to reach our common goal -- advancing solar technology to a new
quote: I can see in about 20 to 25 years people all over the US and Canada with Solar panels trying to sell back power to the power companies. With nearly every household, apartment complex, townhome, condo covered with photovoltaics there would be a surplus of electricity.