Australian dye solar cell producer Dyesol says its immediate and medium term future is assured after the National Industrialization Company of Saudi Arabia, a $5 billion conglomerate better known as Tasnee, agreed to invested $4 million as part of an R&D agreement that could lead to the construction of demonstration projects in the Middle East.
Chairman Richard Caldwell said the investment, which could rise up to $20 million and a one third stake within 18 months meant that the company was guaranteed enough funds to continue the development of its world-leading technology, which could be applied on buildings and rooftops to generate electricity. It is thought that a demonstration project could include the use of its dye solar cells to generate electricity on a new building in the Middle East.
Dyesol’s technology could lead to the mass manufacture of glass-based solar PV products on the sides of buildings (light absorbing panels, windows etc) and cars, and on steel products for roofing. It has a manufacturing plant in Wales with Tata and a joint venture in Ohio with Pilkington Glass.
Tasnee is the world’s largest producer of titanium oxide and owns several titanium mines in Australia through its purchase of Bermax Resources, and its subsidiary Cristal has been working with Dyesol’s UK subsidiary to develop nano-titania for use in its steel project being develop with Tata Steel. Nano- titania is a semi-conductor and a key material in manufacture of DSC photovoltaic solar cells.
DSC is a third generation photovoltaic technology often referred to as “artificial photosynthesis” due to the way the thin layers of key materials – including the semi-conductor titanium dioxide layer – generate renewable energy from sunlight, shady light, dappled light or even indoor lighting.
Under the terms of the deal, an initital investment will be made in the forms of a redeemable loan note, convertible into Dyesol shares at a price of 16.6c per share, but there is the potential for Tasnee to invest up to $20 million at a price of 18c a share. At current share prices that would give the Saudi company more than one third of the company. Any shareholding above 20 per cent would require shareholder approval.
“It’s a difficult environment to raise funds for technology companies at the moment, and to have secured a strong and long term strategic investor is great news for the company,” Caldwell told RenewEconomy. “This ensures our future.”
Dyesol said it is also raising a further $2.2 million through a share purchase plan at 16.6 cents per share. The company said it is confident of fulfilling all its funding obligations in major projects during 2013 and beyond.
Cristal chairman and CEO Dr Talal Bin Ali Al-Shair said in a statement the investment marks the company’s commitment to pioneering innovation, constant product and process improvement, and “our leading role in contributing to creating a brighter and cleaner world.”