Ascent Solar Technologies, Inc., a developer and manufacturer of state-of-the-art, lightweight, flexible thin-film photovoltaic (PV) solutions, is pleased to announce that the Company has signed a Joint Development Agreement (the “JDA”) with German based agrivoltaic thin-film solar tube maker, TubeSolar AG (“TubeSolar”), to pursue the fast-growing Agricultural-photovoltaics/Agrivoltaics (APV) market.
Management indicated that this JDA is a multi-million-dollar, long-term supply agreement, forming a strategic partnership between Ascent Solar and TubeSolar. This JDA includes (i) long-term supplier of customized PV (“PV Foils”) for TubeSolar, (ii) Non-Recurring Engineering Fee (“NRE Fee”) of up to $4M, payable by TubeSolar to Ascent Solar in three parts, (iii) establishment of a joint venture entity to develop a new manufacturing facility located in Germany (“JV FAB”), (iv) the Company will benefit from milestone payments by TubeSolar of up to $13.5M, and (v) joint development efforts in next generation, high efficiency CIGS-Perovskite tandem PV cells.
TubeSolar, which previously invested $2.5M into Ascent Solar, is a German listed publicly traded company that develops patented photovoltaic thin-film tubes assembled into modules specifically for various applications within the agricultural sector. This strategic partnership affords Ascent Solar another potentially lucrative revenue source, while also giving the Company the ability to expand into a market that currently has an install capacity of 2.8 gigawatts annually, and is estimated to reach a massive, 500 gigawatt capacity by 2050—according to the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems.
Pursuant to the JDA, TubeSolar intends to purchase PV Foils from Ascent on a long-term basis, and expects to require up to 3 megawatts from Ascent Solar in 2022, up to 15 megawatts in 2023, up to 50 megawatts in 2024, and up to 2 gigawatts thereafter. However, the exact requirements of TubeSolar were not yet determined at the time of this agreement. In addition to the $4M NRE Fee that TubeSolar will pay Ascent Solar for the customized design of the PV Foils, Ascent Solar and TubeSolar have also jointly established a subsidiary company in Germany, Ascent Solar Germany, GmbH (“Ascent Germany”), in which Ascent Solar shall hold the controlling stake of 70% (the “JV”). This JV will be responsible for delivering the PV Foils exclusively to TubeSolar on a long-term basis.
Management further indicated that it is anticipated that TubeSolar will pay Ascent Solar up to $13.5M in four phases once the JV FAB achieves certain benchmarks relating to specific production capacities and/or cost structure.
Juergen Gallina, CTO of TubeSolar, stated, “We have evaluated multiple flexible PV technologies for our unique tube design. After an extensive review of Ascent Solar’s PV technology and being able to identify the ease of adoption and integration with our PV tubes, we are convinced that Ascent’s ultra-light flexible module is the best for TubeSolar. From the time our investing into Ascent Solar was announced, I was confident that Ascent Solar should prove invaluable to TubeSolar. There is no doubt that this partnership will be important to our innovative tube design, and should help establish TubeSolar as a possible market leader in the APV markets.”
TubeSolar offers the agricultural market a solar product that is unique in both design and function. Solar panels are encapsulated in a unique tube design that allows for self-cleaning, lowering maintenance cost. The tubes are also designed to be well spaced in their placement and arrangement to ensure light and water permeability for optimal vegetation.
Victor Lee, President and CEO of Ascent Solar Technologies, stated, "This strategic partnership is highly transformative in nature. Based on the complementary expertise between TubeSolar and Ascent Solar, we can now pursue the massive APV markets with a trusted partner and committed investor that will help to drive manufacturing, sales, marketing, distribution and installation.
“Meanwhile, Ascent Solar will continue to expand our Colorado FAB and operations with the recent $5M capital injection the Company received, primarily on capacity ramp-up, technological improvements and sales development strategy. While we will continue to develop and serve the Tier-1 premium markets in industries such as aerospace and the public sector, this type of partnership also enables us to focus on R&D, product development, and plant development and expansion; particularly as the JV FAB focuses on scale, cost reduction and broader commercialization.”
Mr. Lee concluded, “APV is a promising and intelligent concept combining dual use of land for agriculture and solar power generation, a key Government initiative worldwide to counteract the scarcity of usable space and to contribute to the sustainable development of rural areas. This now gives farmers more opportunity to develop new sources of income without losing the productivity of their land. Having the ability to work with a key partner [TubeSolar], who is also a proven and committed investor in the Company, to build the largest non-U.S. based, CIGS FAB, utilizing Ascent Solar’s unique, flexible, monolithically integrated technology, I believe is a strong endorsement of Ascent Solar’s management and our flexible CIGS technology.”