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Emcore to invest JV cash into solar cell business

After raising $88 million through the sale of its stake in joint-venture company GELcore, Emcore will invest heavily in its terrestrial solar cell business.

Emcore is to spend at least $10 million on its terrestrial solar cell business as negotiations on some large energy contracts are finalized.

Following the recent sale of its 49 per cent share in GELcore and its electronic materials division - both cash deals - Emcore has improved its cash position by some $100 million.

And having decided that its future lies in solar power and not in LEDs, Emcore is ready to pump at least $10 million into expanding and developing its solar cell offering through equipment purchases and an increase in headcount.

Citing the company's past success in satellite power applications, Emcore CEO Reuben Richards said that the terrestrial solar business could be similarly lucrative.

Emcore's multi-junction cells already operate at a maximum conversion efficiency of around 36 per cent, meaning that the technology can outperform other solar approaches.

That figure will soon be improved, with Emcore expecting to deliver cells operating at a 40 per cent conversion efficiency by mid-2007, and at 50 per cent within four years if a DARPA-funded development program goes according to plan.

Emcore is believed to be in the final stages of negotiations for the first wave of potential 40 MW contracts, which would represent the largest deployments of multi-junction GaAs solar cells to date.

Details of those contract awards are expected to made public within the next few weeks, and order activity ought to accelerate after the first deal is finalized.

The remaining cash on Emcore's balance sheet will be retained for general working capital purposes.

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