Konica Minolta, Konarka join on thin-film cells

Kyodo News

Konica Minolta Holdings Inc. has signed an agreement with U.S. venture business Konarka Technologies Inc. to cooperate from April on the development of organic thin-film solar cells that have a wide range of commercial applications.

Under the deal involving an investment of ¥1.8 billion in the Massachusetts-based venture, Konica Minolta and Konarka will combine their respective strengths to improve the performance of the flexible solar cells, including their efficiency in converting sunlight into electricity.

In an attempt to prolong the life of thin-film solar cells and cut production costs, Konica Minolta will transfer its film technologies to Konarka, which has been developing and marketing its next-generation organic thin-film solar cells, it said.

The companies will seek to devise mass-manufacturing technology by fiscal 2012 with an eye to establishing a joint venture in Japan to manufacture and market improved thin-film solar cells, it said.

Various firms have been vying to develop next-generation organic thin-film solar cells as they are more lightweight than current mainstream silicon-based cells.

The wider acceptance of thin-film solar cells has been hampered by their short life and low light-to-electricity conversion efficiency.