Prime Impact Fund leads financing to accelerate market adoption of Leading Edge’s next-generation solar panel manufacturing approach.
Wilmington, MA, October 27, 2020 – Leading Edge Equipment Technologies, the maker of revolutionary silicon wafer manufacturing equipment for solar panels, announced today the closing of $7.6 million in Series A financing led by Prime Impact Fund. Clean Energy Ventures and DSM Venturing also participated in the financing.
“Leading Edge’s technology is poised to structurally disrupt solar panel manufacturing,” said Matthew Nordan, Managing Director at Prime Impact Fund. “As solar accelerates globally, Leading Edge provides an unusual opportunity to increase panel efficiency, reduce cost, and slash greenhouse gas emissions from the panel production process. We’re excited to work with Rick, Alison, Nathan, and the rest of the team to quickly commercialize this manufacturing technology.”
Leading Edge empowers solar panel manufacturers with a new drop-in manufacturing technology that produces kerfless, single-crystal silicon wafers. This manufacturing technology reduces wafer costs by 50 percent, increases commercial solar panel power by up to seven percent, and reduces manufacturing emissions by over 50 percent.
“After critical technology demonstrations and the development of a new commercial tool, we are now ready to launch this technology into market in 2021,” said Rick Schwerdtfeger, CEO of Leading Edge who joined the team in 2020 to lead commercialization. “Having recently secured a 31,000 square foot facility and doubled the size of our team, we will use this new funding to prepare for our 2021 commercial pilots.”
Current silicon wafer production technology is a seven-step process in which large silicon ingots, created in large and energy-intensive furnaces, are wire-sawn into wafers. This approach is extremely wasteful, incurs high energy costs, and produces low-quality wafers that reduce solar panel efficiency. Leading Edge’s manufacturing equipment uses its patented Floating Silicon Method™ to produce silicon wafers through ribbons. This reduces the production process to a single step while also consuming less energy and producing almost no waste product.
“Despite intense growth in the solar industry over the last decade, many manufacturers have struggled to remain profitable, competing on market share and marginal cost reductions. We’re excited to empower manufacturers with a game-changing competitive advantage and unlock cost-effective, high-efficiency solar power,” said Alison Greenlee, Co-founder and Chief Commercial Officer of Leading Edge.