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HelioVolt Stops Work as Investor Backs Out

AUSTIN, Texas, March 6, 2014 — HelioVolt, a developer and manufacturer of thin-film solar modules based on copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS) technology, has suspended its photovoltaic (PV) initiatives because its major investor has backed out of the PV industry altogether.

SK Group of South Korea, which has invested more than $69 million in HelioVolt since the two companies entered into a relationship in 2011, has opted to stop pursuit of its global solar PV goals “for reasons related to their business strategy.”

HelioVolt is now investigating strategic alternatives that will allow it to continue its PV development and manufacturing. In the interim, however, it will discontinue operations and reduce its 127-employee workforce over the next two months. 

Recent studies by analyst company IHS show that the PV industry could grow at double-digit rates in 2014, with the potential for installations to top 40 GW for the first time.

However, the CIGS solar industry has suffered in recent years as the PV market continues to be dominated by the less expensive crystalline silicon and thin-film cadmium telluride materials.

The key players of the few CIGS-based PV companies remaining are Japan’s Solar Frontier and China’s Hanergy. Many others have been forced out of business by the continuing drop in crystalline silicon and cadmium telluride module prices in recent years.

In 2012, HelioVolt had invested in a pilot manufacturing line, targeting its R&D efforts on delivering modules with efficiencies of 16 percent by 2014. These modules, which were partially backed by SK Group, were still under development when SK Group discontinued its partnership.

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