Martin Roscheisen, CEO of thin film solar company Nanosolar, founded the startup five years ago when solar was nowhere near the hot topic it is today. He managed to fund the company with at least $100 million from venture firms like Benchmark Capital and Mohr Davidow […]

Martin Roscheisen, CEO of thin film solar company Nanosolar, founded the startup five years ago when solar was nowhere near the hot topic it is today. He managed to fund the company with at least $100 million from venture firms like Benchmark Capital and Mohr Davidow and individual investors like Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, and entrepreneur Jeff Skoll.

The Austrian citizen born in Munich is also a long time Internet entrepreneur who already founded three startups with a combined value of more than $1.2 billion. In an email interview he answers 10 questions for us:

Q). You were one of the first Valley entrepreneurs to focus seriously on green tech – If you had to start a clean tech company in 2007, and not 2002, what would you do differently?

A). I know very little about anything in greentech other than solar. If I had to start a solar company in 2007, I would take a pass. This industry is in a very different stage now. This is going to be like the DRAM business much more quickly than many may realize. I have a hard time seeing how anyone can be successful in solar who isn’t truly in volume in 2008 with a very mature, very cost-efficient technology.

Q). Before Nanosolar you were an Internet entrepreneur – what are the lessons that you’ve learned in that industry that have helped you most when you moved into clean tech?

A). Hiring for “raw talent” (and sense of urgency and drive to win) over “experience”. Being disciplined about not overhiring. Focusing on business not busyness. Quickly ignoring all sorts of miscreants. Accelerating momentum without spending a dollar on marketing. A few other things.

Q). In the thin film industry there are several players like Miasole or SoloPower that are looking to build the next CIGS thin film technology. What will make the difference in which technologies win the deals?

A).An IEC-certified panel product available in near-term 100MW volume at a fully-loaded cost point in the sixties [cents/Watt] or less so that one can profitably sell at a $.99/Watt wholesale price point. There’s no chance a process technology based on a high-vacuum deposition technique is going to make this. The window of opportunity for that more conventional approach to CIGS existed perhaps two years ago in the form of the chance of getting to market earlier with such more incremental technology.

But by now, the industry has moved on generally and Nanosolar is there with far better third-generation process technology that took a $150-million deep-dive into very science-intense research and development to develop, and that momentum gap that will continue to broaden fast.

Q). The thin film industry has seemed to undergo delays in general – has the time to production taken longer than you expected, or are critics being unreasonable?

A). It is correct that there’s at least one journalist/blogger running the danger of being remembered in history as the one who scolded Carl Benz for being a month late with the first automobile. Thin film solar cells are an amazingly advanced and complex technology that even the brightest groups of people in the world can find unusually challenging. Furthermore, developing materials processes and building manufacturing tooling and operations simply does not happen on software or consumer electronics development cycles.

Especially not for a profoundly transformative new technology such as Nanosolar’s. So not even our own investors care really all that much about whether we’re a bit late or not; it’s more all about getting there safely. That said, it turns out that we have executed very well and are very close within our internal timeline originally proposed to our investors in 2005.

Q). A report from the Information Network said that delays in thin film have “soured venture capital firms and other equity investors who had hoped for faster returns on investments.” Thoughts?

A). I don’t know about “souring” but if anyone expected a materials based business to deliver YouTube type investment IRRs, they might have put their hopes in the wrong place. On the other hand, a company like Nanosolar has a credible path towards shipping $10 billion worth of high-ops-margin product to strong commercial customers with a sales model that could not be simpler and more predictable; and at that point the company would perhaps still only have a one-digit market penetration percentage. So there will be attractive returns for long-term investors of all sizes. But no overnight killing. We have turned down a ton of interested investors who we did not feel had the right outlook.

Q). Will Nanosolar begin production this year?

A). Yes, we’re on track with this. Do not expect an Apple style product launch though. Our first 100,000 panels are already set to go into closed, private, utility-scale deployments, with a tall fence around them and not much accessibility to the general public.

Q). Does the company need to raise any more money?

A). We are fully funded for reaching profitability. We may choose to raise additional capital for accelerating our capacity expansion.

Q). An analyst told me that thin film solar companies in the U.S. are worried about price competition with Chinese solar firms. . . .is that true and something Nanosolar thinks about competitively?

A). If I ran a company based on solar thin films deposited in high-vacuum chambers, I’d worry too. Because [Chinese market leader] Suntech achieves better capital efficiency today with conventional silicon-wafer based solar factories than a typical thin-film vacuum line. That’s a problem right there. At Nanosolar though, we have a nanoparticle-based printing process that is 5-10x more capital efficient on the total line. So we have a good delta.

All things being equal, given the $/kg economics of solar panels, I don’t think the competitive end game is to be shipping them from China. The end-game winners will be optimized for net working capital days and proximity to customers. (Btw, shipping from China costs ten times as much as shipping to China these days…) The middle game will be dominated by quality issues; this is a product that people expect to last for decades.

Quality is quite hard to do with the kinds of manual factories that are behind the capital efficiency of Chinese production lines. I see a lot of big customers in Europe quite unhappy with Chinese panels. That all said, my general rule on China is that one has to recheck all of one’s assumptions about China about once every three months.

Q). The company’s chief scientist Chris Eberspacher joined Applied Materials and some bloggers were wondering if the company is losing its core startup talent. Thoughts?

A). I don’t think that’s the case. There may have been a bit too much blue-sky blogging on that by some. Perhaps the following background helps to clarify all of this a bit:

Chris Eberspacher is a 20-year PV industry veteran who joined us 2.5 years ago as an R&D group manager at a time when our technology was already in full development and the technical roadmap established. His initial review of the many things we had started doing concluded that this all makes a tremendous amount of sense, has a lot of distinct advantages, and that we should proceed with exactly these plans without incorporating any of the work pioneered by Chris himself.

It turns out that things continued like this. Many of our most significant advances and breakthroughs came from intensely trying new things often diametrically counter to any beliefs. So our core engineering culture got reinforced very much around questioning the past, not assuming anything, and fundamentally not at all that much valuing the past 20 years of solar research. Chris still managed to be part of this for a good amount of time, with him in particular representing us externally very well.

But the internal leadership issue ultimately boiled over late last year after our pilot line team started producing product-quality cells that were more efficient than those produced in the lab by the research team managed by Chris. Lab cells are supposed to be steps ahead not behind the pilot-line cells. So our key engineers, our board, etc. ended up concluding that Chris, for all his experience and industry stature, had to be replaced with one of our younger guys who was the de facto research group leader anyway already.

We did a reorg and moved Chris into a non-operational role. We accepted that he most likely may have larger ambitions that the scope of that. Sure enough, he decided to resign the next month and started looking for a new job. Two more months later he landed at Applied. I actually helped him with getting the job at Applied. He’s going to do very well there among other 20-year solar-industry veterans and presumably a culture that values that kind of experience more than we ever did.

Our own lab team is styling now. And our pilot line running even better. For our first product, the pilot line matters foremost of course. So none of all of the above really affects our product introduction all that much. But we also want to continue to be a powerhouse of lab innovation in the style that’s proven to work best for us: Mostly driven by smart kids straight out of school who we give all the tools and toys to try crazy new things; plus just a thin dose of managers who know how to earn their respect.

Q). Do you have customers lined up to purchase the product, and if so which companies?

A). We are lined up with the industry’s top system integrators as our partners, and it is clear we are going to be manufacturing capacity limited for about as far out as we can see. There’s presently really only two truly scalable solar markets in the world — Germany and Spain — and we do a lot there. Being a scalable market is today as much about feed-in-tariffs as about the administrative framework; tomorrow, with grid-parity PV systems, it is primarily about the latter.

For the United States to also become a truly scalable market, some ingrained bureaucracy stands in the way for that still — everything from 1920s-era conduit-around-cables and grounding requirements to insanely complicated town-by-town permitting processes. It’s hard to believe that California is more bureaucratic than Germany — but it is so in solar power. Fortunately, people are beginning to realize this and so change is possible even if it affects electric code rules designed around 1920s electric technology.

  1. Martin:
    Very interesting interview. You were refreshingly candid and I liked your comment on questioning the past and not assuming anything. From this interview I got the feeling that Nanosolar is in top of their act and should be a hugely successful company. Good luck with your path forward.


  2. [...] by Om Malik Monday, July 30, 2007 at 1:00 PM PT | No comments Earth2Tech Interview: 10 Questions for NanoSolar CEO, Martin Roscheisen. Continue [...]

  3. Chester Huggins Monday, July 30, 2007

    Glad to see that this awesome technology is piloted by such a level-headed and intelligent leader. The innovations+final costs+management will bring this to the realm of revolutionary.

  4. [...] 10 Questions for Nanosolar CEO Martin Roscheisen Martin Roscheisen, CEO of thin film solar company Nanosolar, founded the startup five years ago when solar was nowhere […] [...]

  5. [...] Thin film companies like Nanosolar have been able to raise a lot of money over the last few years, though some think that private equity for thin film companies is starting to dry up. (check out our recent interview with Nanosolar’s CEO here). [...]

  6. [...] a great interview on Earth2Tech with Nanosolar CEO Martin Roscheisen, in which he gives his views on the current solar industry. [...]

  7. [...] Earth2Tech Interview: 10 Questions for NanoSolar CEO, Martin Roscheisen. Continue reading [...]

  8. [...] Roscheisen, the CEO of Nanosolar, gave us 10 truly candid answers to some of our prying [...]

  9. David Matterhorn Sunday, August 5, 2007

    What a load of horse poop. This fellow Martin R is such a twat. I live in silicon valley and watch this company closely. It is a grenade waiting to go off. All vapor. Not substance. Engineers are leaving, CTO quit. Vendors are fed up. Stop fooling the industry Martin. Nanosolar is a charade.

  10. anonymous pv expert Thursday, August 9, 2007

    Martin – is your 60 cents/Wp price point for cells or for modules? After all FSLR with a vacuum based process is at about $1/Wp for modules RIGHT NOW. So if your price point is 60 c/Wp for cells, you are not better than an existing, proven, vacuum based approach that draws on “the successes of the past 20 years.” Everything you say shouldn’t matter.

    Last I heard, you were making flexible cells (not modules) to go into encapsulated modules to replace silicon cells.

  11. [...] like its competitors Miasole, SoloPower, DayStar, and Nanosolar, uses the chemical copper indium gallium selendide (CIGS) to convert sunlight into electricity. [...]

  12. There are more factors that determine the solar cell cost price, such as the price of gallium, indium and selenide. How cheap are these materials (and how big are the world wide stocks) compared to silicon which is practicaly everywhere? How fast will nanosolar run out of raw material supply needed for manufacturing CIGS solar panels? 1 year? 10 years? This is the most important question to ask nanosolar.

  13. How much energy is needed to produce and collect the raw materials copper, gallium, indium and selenide? How efficient is CIGS solar cell recycling?

  14. i would like to see and feel this product
    give me a light for my shed or a fan
    i’m a heating and ac man and would like to intergrate this product into heating and ac heatpump
    an answer from nanosolar would be very nice.
    in the mean time it seems to be a pipe dream.
    I have consumers from the past 3 years that i have installed the hiest eer/seer heating and cooling/heatpump that would have me intergrate this solar product to get them off the grid and away from the gas co

  15. [...] questions & answers in a recent Earth2Tech interview, including the following regarding the expected availability of our [...]

  16. [...] The Austrian citizen born in Munich is also a long time Internet entrepreneur who already founded three startups with a combined value of more than $1.2 billion Quoted from earth2tech.com [...]

  17. How can an individual investor invest in this company?

    1. They can’t

  18. Reciba mis mas cordiales saludos quisiera saber sobre las cordinaciones para la venta de estos equipos en mi pais siendo esta muy tentadora para el desarrollo de las tecnologias renovables en el peru.

  19. Me gustaria conocer mas detalles de los puntos de ventas en EEUU y las posibles representaciones fuera de EEUU. Saludos,

  20. We need this technology loosed on the public so badly! And I agree that we need to get this “Made in America” instead of having it outsourced offshore. Truly a sea-change shift in solar technology.

    I for one, want to sell it.

    Go, nanoSolar!

  21. [...] is receiving as part of the Solar America Initiative. The company’s CEO Martin Roscheisen, whom we previously interviewed, writes in his blog that “the competition was stiff and included every single significant solar [...]

  22. The devil will be in the details of sourcing, manufacturing and servicing sales, cusomer service.

    The basic technology nanosolar has developed seems to be good but the execution of the solar cell installations will be critical. I would suggest nanosolar go with specialty engineering contractors to ensure appropriate applications and customer satisfaction. QUALITY.. QUALITY..QUALITY. Establish the name brand.

  23. Martin,
    I have been following your development since publication of some of the initial research on quantum dot technology. I applaud your efforts and continue to sing the praises of solar technology.

    One request: make enough for us all to have clean energy, not just the rich corporations.

  24. If the quality is superior, if the supply of raw materials is plentiful and accessible enough, if supply can meet demand fast enough to outrun competitors in the beginning years, Nanosolar should do well. If their first year’s production is sold out, maybe they should build a plant in the Midwest to assist in the development of the company. I hope we see the company come to fruition as an industry leader, way ahead in their field.

  25. Bonjour Martin,

    Congratulations for your perspectives and the direction you have given to your NanoSolar company. In this part of “old” Europe your projects are realy seen as a new way on the futur of energy supply.
    If I may ask just one question : Is Nanosolar looking for a strategic site to locate a production facility in Europe ? if the answer is Yes I hope that Eastern Europeen countries are already targeted.
    I may help and get involve in such project.

    Best Regards

  26. I have invested in other Companies in the same field ..such as xsunx) xsnx) and octilion (octl). Please send me your symbol. Thanks.

  27. Joe scientist nobody Monday, October 1, 2007

    I saw a special on TV about Nanosolar. It claimed Nanosolar uses a “nano mixture” in the production process. I also work in the nanotech sector. I was wondering where Nanosolar plans to get this powder in bulk? where might my industry fit in? The interview here sounded good but I personally need to see more data before I buy into all these variables. It sounds good and all but I need more hard numbers and data before I really totally believe it. I Still hope it is successful because oil waste is eventually going to catch up to all of us. I would like the CEO to ANSWER some harder questions before I buy into the whole deal. I really hope they succeed but we all need to see more hard numerical data. Over generalities abound as usual. True science needs hard numbers. Plain and simple. Mr CEO can you deliver us some good math to chew on?

  28. Nanosolar all the way! If this is true it will change the world! Please scale up and out as quickly as possible. I’d love to dedicate my life to the cause if these numbers pan out.

  29. Any news when Nanosolar’s company /production begins?

  30. I was wondering where Nanosolar plans to get this powder in bulk

    Excellent question, seeing as how quantum dots (at least all the descriptions of dot structures that come to mind) have been made in research environments under high vacuum. There are techniques for precipitating atomic scale particles, both metals and silicates, out of solution, but I’ve no idea about gallium.

  31. [...] its solar technology, which is made from copper indium gallium selendide (CIGS). Competitors like Nanosolar and Miasolé, which are using the same materials, have also raised large funds and are struggling [...]


  33. What efficient are Nano Solar cells compare to the best solar cells? are they close to 20% efficient or better?

  34. The latest IPCC report (November 2007) says we have only a matter of a few years to get our CO2 emissions down before some unpleasant climate effects kick in. By the time Nanosolar gets its product to market and in stable volume production it will be too late. We need 100’s of their plant being assembled around the world now if it is to have any impact not just a couple. Only governments can deliver this scale of commitment in the time available.

    1. You must be related to Al Gore. There is a problem with fossil fuels for sure, but let’s not overhype it again, shall we? It’s 2010 and colder than ever.

  35. I agree with you Phil Rowlands. Nanosolar type technology needs to be rolled out on an absolutely massive scale to benefit the earth and it’s inhabitants. Trickled out by a single company protected by patents, the company’s investors will get rich, but the rest of earth’s citizens see no benefit; unless they can scale up dramatically! Then they run up against the 450GW material resource limit. One must assume their goal is to consume the entire CGIS material resource base before their patents run out. 450GW is a drop in the bucket compared with what the world needs.

  36. [...] Multimedia (Thailand) CNBC Earth2Tech – 10 questions for Nanosolar CEO Martin Roscheisen [...]

  37. Over 20 yrs ago, I sat in an advanced Solar energy class, listening to a classmate who worked for a “thin-film” company (Ovonics?) tell me about the machine he was helping to design for a local PV R&D/manufacturer. I thought “WOW! This is really going to set the PV market on fire!” 20+ yrs (and a new millenium later) and the PV market is a “contained fire”….production is sold-out in advance, but PV doesn’t really register on a pie chart of electrical contribution. A lot of this MAY of been because of Political/Economic constraints (cheap fossil fuels and indifferent politicians). Now, as a nation (and furthermore, as a global society) we are waking-up to the REAL costs of “traditional” energy sources (War, Global Warming, Food vs Fuel, Core Economic Inflation…think oil prices, balance-of-trade, etc.). People are demanding (and investing) in Alternatives such as advanced PV, Hydrogen on Demand, Combined heat and Power, and energy storage devices.
    If the “Real Innovators” don’t deliver these products REAL soon; you will see more of the same “old-school” resources being given the “Lipstick-on-a-Pig” treatment (think “clean-coal”, Alberta Tar Sands, ANWR drilling schemes, nuclear, etc)…and shoved back down our throats!
    I agree with Mr Roscheisen about China; the USA has “given away” so many industries over the last 30+ years, we can’t afford to give away something as IMPORTANT as ENERGY! Not to mention, the Chinese demand that you “partner-up” with one of their companies and relinquish Intellectual Property Rights to manufacture over there (if they don’t just outright ignore your patent). On the electrical Code issue: Yes, a Uniform Code would help greatly in design and marketing of PV products. The code is in place to protect the public’s safety and installation integrity,…. but I can’t see why Industry and National Code officials can’t work work towards cost-effective and safe requirements on issues such as BIPV and grid-tied systems.
    Assuming everything I’ve read about Nanosolar (from Nanosolar) is true…and this is a mature, tested (not Beta) product…then opening one or two plants worldwide isn’t going to make you an Industry Leader. Your production is sold-out in advance; and due to world-wide demand for competitive alternatives, new factories need to be built. There are only 2 variables that preclude you from further expansion: Capital and/or Labor shortages. Though gainfully employed with a large Automotive R&D center, I can still help you with the 2nd!
    This is Nanosolar’s chance to be the Intel, Toyota, or Google of the PV industry. I would love to get my hands on some stock…or at least let me sell the product!

    Don Bosworth

  38. This story does not ring true. Read closely and notice the way everything is generalized, also the “display glass” effect, to arouse the public without offering any opportunity to participate.

    The impression is that Nanosolar is trying to monopolize this production technique and protect it from competitors. But in today’s world it is futile. Employees will go elsewhere and the tribal knowledge will eventually spread throughout the industry.

    It reads like a tease. It sounds like setting up for pure profit. They don’t want to open source their technology for the betterment of the world. Very selfish old fashioned capitalism of the robber baron era.

    Until it is made available to the public and featured on a major TV network news magazine, Nanosolar is pure and simple – vapor ware.

    What ever happened to the satellite phones? They were not practical for the marketplace. A lot of smart money lost on that one. So don’t assume Google backing makes Nanosolar legit.

  39. It seems to me like Nanosolar has what it needs to become a giant company in no time with a little bit of luck. Companies dealing with renewable energy or alternative sources of energy will definitely be big in the near future.

  40. http://www.nanosolar.com/history.htm:
    “March 2006: Nanosolar’s research and development team produces cells with world-record efficiency: the most efficient printed cell ever. NREL certifies these efficiencies achieved.”
    I would think nanosolar would post a “more info” link that documents that claim. If that claim is/was true it would also be nice of them to actually state the efficiency of their cells.
    I am somewhat skeptical of this company.

  41. [...] had set a goal to start production and shipping by the end of this year, and in our post “10 Questions for Nanosolar CEO Martin Roscheisen” back in July, Roscheisen told us: “Yes, we’re on track with this. Do not expect an [...]

  42. [...] had set a goal to start production and shipping by the end of this year, and in our post “10 Questions for Nanosolar CEO Martin Roscheisen” back in July, Roscheisen told us: “Yes, we’re on track with this. Do not expect an [...]

  43. Joseph S Chevalier Saturday, December 15, 2007

    Martin, December 15,2007

    I am a retired entrepenuer from Pennsylvania. I retired to Florida in 2002 and am ready for a interesting chalange in Solar Energy. I read an article on Nanosolar’s Flexible solar cells and can see much opportunity in Florida. Most of the solar here is traditional pool heating and a limited domestic hot water heating. A few companies are considering photo-voltaic applications, however the pay-back is quite poor.

    Kindly send me an e-mail to discuss the possibility of being a representive for your growing company.

                               Sincerely Yours,
                                Joseph S. Chevalier
  44. I can’t believe there are people sophisticated enough to read this article who believe IPCC reports. Religious much?

  45. “It sounds like setting up for pure profit. They don’t want to open source their technology for the betterment of the world. Very selfish old fashioned capitalism of the robber baron era.”

    I think my lower eyeball muscles just pulled loose from the force of them rolling up into my head. Everybody should assemble expensive teams of top talent, take huge risks and innovate, then give it away! If only we were more like the old Soviet Union, then they’d be riding the wave of the future with Longone!

    1. Nice Realist! A true Capitalist. You get it.

  46. Once Nanosolar’s factory is actually in successful production, licensing the proven technology to others is the way to go so that the building of nuclear reactors and coal fired plants stop.
    Instead of building a 10bn-euro (£6.6bn) nuclear fusion reactor in France, build factories to produce electricity from the existing nuclear fusion reactor called the Sun.
    Enough PV energy production would have the beneficial side effect of reducing the Sun’s power to heat the earth, directly (the storage of the power generated in batteries, capacitors and the electrical grid) and indirectly by the elimination of CO2 emissions and construction of energy consuming
    objects (plants consume sunlight in order to grow, nanotech devices could “grow” with the PV electricity).
    The result would render Al Gore as poor a prophet as Thomas Rohr Mathus.

  47. This is very intriguing concept and if true would change the stance of solar as we know it, but until people can actually get there hand on it it’s all BS. I would like to develop and sell full power systems for RV’s and smaller systems for portable power sources, systems that are to bulky heavy and fragile with the current technologies

  48. I would like some numbers. What is the efficiency of the cells. What surface area would be needed to supply the 3kw of your average home. Does .99c per watt mean that a home could be supplied for just under 3 grand?

  49. Nanosolar seems to have done some wonderful work and if the cost is as attractive as it is claimed and if with volume production there is going to be no bottlenecks for the materials used in the process which are all rare metals, their products are ideal for a country like India which needs to make very large investments in the power sector to create new capacity of more than 300,000 MW over the next ten years, at the same time keeping carbon emission low to keep its contribution to global warming low. Perhaps Nanosolar will take a hard look at intensely focusing on India in their marketing efforts.

  50. Dependence on dinosaur blood (petroleum) is creating
    environmental and political catastrophes worldwide. Please do everything within your power to save the world. Just 9% of desert states’ land area covered with
    nanosolar panels would produce enough electricity to
    supply all the energy needs of the entire USA. Perhaps
    you can team up with Tesla Motors, and make more of
    those all electric cars at a cheaper price. $100,000 for a
    Tesla Motor car is too high. Mass production should make a significant price reduction and make them available for the masses of people. All the best.

  51. I wonder what the plans for the future dissemination of Nanosolar’s technology really are. They could combine traditional capitalism’s profitability paradigm, with a cooperative low cost licensing program to help the world deal with the energy / environmental crisis we have gotten ourselves into. They would have the opportunity to build some very interesting caveats into such a scheme.

    I too wonder about personal investment opportunities and if there is anywhere to sign up, so that folks like me can be notified when the opportunity does opens up.

    I would also like to see answers to the technical questions the skeptics are asking .

    Exciting Stuff.

  52. julian c. holmes Sunday, December 23, 2007

    Thanks for the introduction to Nanosolar. I am a 77 year old retired government physicist and would like to construct a receptor of panels to produce 100 to 1000 watts of power as a beginning test of my ability to produce useable solar-electric power for my home here in Maine. If I construct my own panels, I will need to know the individual cell size range, and cell efficiency, environment needed for cell protection in panels, and costs for the cells — or for panels. The best of luck to you at Nanosolar! JCH

  53. WINSTON F. CHEW Sunday, December 23, 2007


  54. I am very interensted as an investor not only as a
    “green minded” occupant on planet earth, but as a conscientious user of our limited natural resources. Any help with regard to your company or any other privately or publicaly held company would be greatly appreciiatee.
    Sincerely, a fellow carbon based lifeform.
    Sandford N. Skadsem

  55. Can any one from nanosolar tell me when these panels will be available to the public , and also the efficiency .
    My 2500 watt panels are about “20 years old ” and I would like to replace them.


  56. [...] 2). Nanosolar’s Got Thin Film Solar Game: We wrote about how Nanosolar had started producing thin film solar panels in its San Jose plant on schedule before the end of 2007. And soon after the company announced it had started shipping its first thin film solar panels. Then there’s the most popular post of the year, 10 Questions for Nanosolar CEO Martin Roscheisen. [...]

  57. afu 100,000,0000

    There are two main poster types here: First there are insightful comments and questions, then there are ding-a-lings spouting off about how they’d like to Work For or Invest In this company, or How Unfair the world is. Gimme a break. Like a blog comment section is gonna get any of you closer to your goals. Stop wasting everyone’s time who came to learn from insightful posts.

    1. :) Was thinking that too but… there is room in the world for people who are willing to come here and learn a bit, as naive as they are.

  59. Excuse my skepticism. They say they are in production, but first year’s product already sold. Sounds like smoke and mirrors to me.
    What USA needs desperately is US$1/watt solar. At that price, I and several hundred thousand others will go solar. At US$1/Watt solar would finally be competitive with coal utility price. No tax breaks or subsidy required.
    I would like nothing better than to see my local electric company, Alabama Power, shut down their coal fired pollution generators. These bastards, and thier parent company, The Southern Company, have spent untold millions of dollars lobbying politicians and in court fighting upgrades to thier coal fired generators that would reduce emissions. And they are winning !!!
    I will belive Nanosolar when I see the ads in Home Power for US$1/Watt solar panels. Not before.
    I have space for $3K of ‘em on my roof.

    Birmingham, Alabama

  60. [...] written about here the other day, made by a California company, Nanosolar. Nanosolar has revolutionized solar power by beating the cost of other power sources and has successfully mass-produced their [...]

  61. I currently own shares in Emcore (EMKR), and World Water & Solar (WWAT.OB).

    I have been watching Nanosolar for several months with great interest. I am a Realtor representing a number of builders and a very large developer in my region. The respective websites can be found here: http://www.apg-lc.com http://www.carltopley.com

    Southern New Mexico is an IDEAL area for photovoltaics due to both elevation and weather conditions. I plan to utilize photovoltaics on my next personal residence. As a realtor, I have many inquiries about “Green Construction”. Additionially, the real estate market in Las Cruces, NM is pretty solid, in SPITE of what has been happening in the national arena. Las Cruces is a top retirement destination and additionally, has White Sands Missile Range and NASA test facilities contributing to our employment base.

    I am interested in several things:

    1. Is nanosolar going to go public? I am interested in investing in the company.

    2. The cost/watt is VERY affordable. What is the efficiency rating? How does it compare to the fresnel lense competitors as far as MW/Acre?

    3. How durable is your product? What is the life-expectancy of the cells? How does it compare with Emcore or Spectralab’s products?

    4. As a Realtor, member of the Las Cruces, NM Chamber of Commerce, and Las Cruces Home Buider’s Association, I am also interested in the possibility of marketing your product.

    There is no question about the need for A/E and solar appears to be the most practical for mass-consumption. I find it VERY intriguing that GOOGLE has chosen to invest 1% of their market cap into A/E.

    Hopefully, congress will extend the solar tax credits again this year but given the cost/watt of your product, Nanosolar should not be adversely affected without it.

    I thank you in advance for correspondence regarding the above-mentioned topics.

  62. Nice job Martin, controlled production ramp to prove viability and stability prior to making a major move. Absolutely nothing wrong with being well compensated for hard work and innovation!

  63. Still the question remains: how effecient are the panels?

    Also was it mentioned the wholesale price would be $.99 per watt. I wonder what the full retail price would be to consumers?

    Hey, I live in the Indiana. Want to use my home as an example? Feel free to contact me.

  64. One simple question.
    When will this product be available to the average end user.? Eg: A home owner.
    It is not the mega users that will build industries in the future, but the small individuals.

  65. Till this point in time, Looks like either of the 2 things:

    1) An Arrogant, Greedy bunch of capitalists, trying to keep all the technology and profits for themselves
    (I give it in writing, here, that they will miserably fail to do so, untill they involve the masses)

    2) All of this 1$/W is a ‘BS’ mirage. Either it is not technically feasible, or not possible to scale up, due to (raw material) limitations.

  66. $.99 cents per watt is do able. How do I know because we can do it with a silicon/graphene blend, and a cell engineering that is unique.

    Please excuse me but I have to get back to builing the equipment to do this on Al foil.

  67. Martin,

    You look like Robin Williams. My sister Jane Curtin is a friend of his.

  68. Dear Mr M. Roscheisen,

    I was in contact with you a month ago in order to participate in the commercialisation of your solar panels.
    In early 80’s I was commercial man in charge of Nokia’s TV section, developping bizz with our low consumtion 14 inch CTV’s. My technical man at that time was Mr Markku Talvo still at Nokia, I left 05/95.

    Over the Xmas holidays we met and I would like very much to be involved in your bizz as independent operator in Europe. My commercial territory was everything south of Germany in Europe and “rest of the world”.

    Better 2008, Teuvo Hyvonen, mob +358 44 546 13 43

  69. KESHAV KUMAR VAISOHA Thursday, February 7, 2008

    I have read the very valuable comments coming from very knowledgeable and experienced persons.

    I would like to buy the product for making modules for applications for which I have urgent requirements.

    Please let me know that you would be interested in making your product available to me and when.

  70. I’ve worked with folks installing multi-crystal silicon PV for over 20 years and durability has never been an issue. On the other hand I’ve watched thin-film panels go through three generations of design with poor durability and virtually no improvement. Is Nanosolar’s technology more of the same? I’ve seen lots of hype on pricing, and a bit on efficiency, but nothing about durability. What’s the power loss over time at a set irradience level? Where would I find out? How good is $0.99/watt if it lasts only 4 years, and multi-crystal silicon is $4.00, lasting easily 25 years? I use nano-particle batteries in our electric trikes (A123Systems cells in DeWalt lithium battery packs) so I’m very juiced on the technological possibilities, but with the batteries I’m sure of the improvements (VAST) since I can actually USE them NOW. These panels won’t “catch fire” with the public, installers, distributors, or smart investors until some more hard questions are answered.

  71. Martin,

    I’d like to politely ask for more detail please on what you meant by the term ‘scalable’ in reference to solar markets in your final answer. Just seeking more information to understand this please. I live in Southern hemisphere, so not familiar with the setup in Spain or Germany, and I’m unlikely to get there in this lifetime to see them.
    Any info and comments you care to reply with? Or appropriate weblinks?? Thanks.

  72. I have, as many, many other people been waiting for you to finally come through with this technology to become available to the world. I so much want to become involved with your company and am salivating for the chance to purchace even one of your panels. I would very much appreciate the first opportunity to do so. In the interim I would appreciate your recomendation of the next best solar panels available now as I am building a trout pond that needs oxygenation.

  73. ~ Wrong Paradigm Marty R IMO.

    • Do Agree:
      -Quality (always) = *Far More Lastingly Important than
      ‘Quick to market’, mfg capacitty, et al.

    Wrong Paradigm refers to:
    -Focusing on `Major, Lg Scale Clients decision.
    – Far Better Risk/reward profile IMO exists in Hm Owners as

    *Main Consumer Markating focus .
    “We”(consumering J.Q.Public:

    -*MUST HAVE Specific NUMBERS.
    ~ What(ft & inches BTW)
    – Dimensions are:
    100, 200, etc, Watt modular sections, what V.?, + how Soon Available, & @ co$t of.?.
    -(via Direct to End User markating.
    What challenging *Opportunities lie ahead.?.
    MY Guess:
    “The Shadow (‘panel’wise) knowwws.”

  74. I want to see this technology (or a similar one?) succeed. It’s about time someone came up with something that promises to bring solar energy use into the real world at an affordable(?) price. I am somewhat disappointed the technology (so far) requires such exotic raw materials, since the obvious limitations of such will undoubtedly become roadblocks along the way. Too bad (as others have alluded) nobody has yet figured out a way to harness solar energy in similar ways that plants do it (they’re working on it!). Meanwhile, I think this bears close watching. If D. Matterhorn’s comment (see post of 8/5/07) is correct, the world might be being “duped” again by another “wannabe”. Hmmmmm….time will tell, I guess.

  75. Adjunct articles I have seen stated that the actual costs of production are achieving $0.30/watt. Out the door pricing is suggested at $0.99/watt. If 20 year longevity is achieved, with no drastic reduction in sent out efficiency, then you have done a good solve. Some at this blog have made some very inaccurate statements regarding the overall economics involved. Traditional coal plant technology ‘used’ to be at around $1/watt installed. That figure now is over $2/watt installed, for new plant. Other ‘thermal’ options are ballparked now at $1/watt installed and can achieve approximately 50% to 60% efficiency, in a combined cycle mode. One big differentiator however, key one might say, Nanosolar’s product does not come with an associated gaseous or liquid or coal based fuel bill every month. Nanosolar’s solution for the power sent out will not fluctuate in price every 15 minutes as a function of the cost of some underlying thermal based fuel market. Hence, if the reliability, durability and efficiency is there then the installed capacity capex being offered up by Nanosolar should have the likes of GE and Siemens quite concerned. It should also have traditional utilities with large thermal combusting prime movers edging toward the telephone to contact their political hacks to protect themselves with all sort of BS stranded asset cost pricing and permitting and interconnect hurdles. It is really that simple. If the efficiency is there in say a range of 20%, or better, the Capex is already in a range to support the lack of Opex costs (fuel). Hope it goes Nano…

    …and yes, an entrepreneur should be able to benefit from his efforts at developing intellectual property. Intellectual property does not belong to the state, but rather is developed and delivered to the ‘masses’ in such marketable form as to enable the benefits to be realized. A top down form of government, of any sort, is inefficient from the start and generally inhibits progress.

  76. lawrence obed Thursday, March 13, 2008

    I need a job from Industry, live at Burkina faso please I need it (+226-76-99-04-99)

  77. So, what happens when you use up all the CIGS material on earth or can’t get the material at a good price? It is not like I can run to WalMart and get a kilo of Indium. I don’t trust Nanosolar to solve any world energy problems. I just see a cash cow getting milked.

  78. I wish this company was public, I would buy stock in it, big time! I wish they made something like the Brunton 26 Personal Solar Panel. Its also good to know that the DOE is seriously investing in solar, especially with the current administration… Go solar!

  79. [...] catch? Critics point out that the technology relies on indium, which has a finite supply. You can read some interviews, or watch a video for more [...]

  80. [...] 10 Questions for Nanosolar CEO Martin Roscheisen [...]

  81. It is quite obvious to me from reading Nanosolar’s PR blurbs that they plan on (or already have) dealing with the US govt. sector in the form of DARPA.gov, DOE.gov, and various US municipalities. As Martin already admits dealing with these entities can be a morass of bureaucracy. However, he has chosen to do this anyway.

    He mentions “high fences” around his products rolled-out to his customers. What the…? Is he worried about reverse-engineering by competitors? Let me tell you something… if you climb into bed with dogs you catch fleas!

    The topsy-turvy world of arguably corrupt US municipal town councils and arguably corrupt mayoral systems will certainly crush Nanosolar’s bottom line in no time flat! Dealing with the Bush Administration’s “science-advisers” at DOE and DARPA is like the kiss-of-death in this admittedly oil-soaked venue. They’d rather drill a oil well in a National Park in Alaska then invest into Martin’s miracle product.

    Yes they will (have) pony up the dough… but he’ll find the fences not so high, the security not so tight, the compartmentalization not so compartmented… IOW his invention will go the route of the infamous Nikola Tesla. It will just be shelved somewhere and totally forgotten by the people that count.

    USA is and probably always will be a oil-dependant nation NOT really interested in alternative energy sources. How can they get richer from a .99/watt technology? Martin really needs to unhook himself from this awful bandwagon and consider branching out in the brave new world of green technology and sell to small companies and private homeowners. Hell Fuel Cell Technology is moving faster than this and Bush has already put his sulfurous “hoof” of approval on it too. Bye bye Fuel Cells!


  82. Indium for CIG is not in jeopardy. Stop your fear mongering! It is 3 times more abundant than SILVER! The Teck Cominco refinery in Trail, BC is the largest supplier. Also China is another source.

  83. Dear Mr. Roscheisen,

    We are from Brazil and at this moment we are looking for a manufactory of solar panels to bring into our country as our partnership. Next June 12th we are goint to China to visit 3 companies (Himin, Huayang and Linuo) they make the “tube” technology fo water heather and public light.
    To be in Brazil is a very important place to be, I meant that onlyu in Brazil we have 185 million people we lots of needs for electricity.Besides, logisticaly it is also the best place to be to cover the entire Latin America and the Caribbean.
    The labor in Brazil is very low comparing to USA!
    My question to you is: Do you have plans to expand your business into Latin America?

    Antonio A. Rapetti

  84. Stephen Lafferty Wednesday, April 23, 2008

    Key question not asked or answered: When do you expect to ship your first commercial product?

  85. Rowland Reeves Tuesday, April 29, 2008

    Quick question:
    As an ex-solar energy lobbyist here in California from the 1970’s I’m totally thrilled with Nanosolar’s breakthrough technology. (Calif. Leg. 10% Tax Credit 1975) Things have come along way since those days. I would like to invest in Nanosolar. When is Nanosolar going public? Are there plans for an IPO? For a small investor such as myself it’s the perfect combination of Green Energy and financial participation in a company that has a real mission. I think the more people that become financially committed to this technology the more political pressure will build to break down the bureaucracy (especially on the local level) that makes it tough to install systems.
    Keep up the good work Nanosolar ! ! !
    Rowland Reeves

  86. I’d love to throw a layer of this on the roof of my Prius, put in an extra battery, and drive those free miles. It’s sitting in the baking sun right now…

  87. Would the following be feasible?
    Establish PV solar farms to charge batteries to be used in electric vehicles? Could this approach using easily interchangeable batteries be used for public buses and trolleys?

  88. Dave Lawrence Saturday, May 31, 2008

    It appears to me that the company still has limited resources building the machines to manufacture the long sheets of film. They appear to me to want to maximize their manufacturing process and speed by only serving the needs of large power producers at present, so they will not be doing residential designs. Comercial applications would be easier and take less time to do during this first manufacturing phase. That may be why they do not have time right now to serve the needs of the small individual residential home market.

    If I were starting up a expected to be giant industrial manufacturing operation, I would want to maximize my manufacturing process also by only serving the commercial markets to cover more surfacr area of the earth with panels in these commercial operations.

    Electric companies must have green sources also, so maybe they are the perfect large customers for them to get on their feet as a business. Residential applications will come but later on. They will take up more time and a lot more employees to install.

  89. I am really hoping this company will make off-grid the desired solution instead of being grid tied. This will make rural america areas that are underserved in power have solar as a very attractive and affordable solution. Then you are going to see cheaper inverters that do 10kW for about $2,000 – about what PG&E charges for a transformer when solar becomes more viable. This particular company is going to help build a foundation for energy to come.

    At these prices rural co-ops can generate huge amounts of electricity at a very low cost too.

    This company is pretty exciting. Currently, the best deal I can find on solar panels from BP is about $3.00 per watt. I am really looking forward to those $2.00 per watt or less prices from this company. As an anti big government and anti-regulation type person, being off-grid is my preferred choice- being disconnected in the country.

  90. [...] 10 Questions for Nanosolar CEO Martin Roscheisen [...]

  91. HELLO CEO,


    +312 65 5434 54

    1. lol… great! Here’s my contribution:

      “I would like to own 51% of your company. I have $700 dollars in Google stock that I would trade you in return.” You must act quickly or I will withdraw this offer.

      M Milken

  92. I’m amazed that I had to get all the way to the bottom of this blog to find someone with the same opinion as me, what a waste of my time reading it.

    I figure it’s kinda fishy, been following nanosolar for a long time now and we got nothing man.

    When the potatoe was introduced into France they told the pesants that it was food of royalty and built a fence around the feild. What do you know, people suddenly needed potatoes in a big way.

    I cant wait to see this company go public

  93. Dear Sir,
    With all the effort and money going to alternate, renewable energy development, I only hope you will be successfull in finally producing the goods, which are already advertised as quasi -available by your company!

  94. [...] 10 Questions with Nanosolar CEO Martin Roscheisen from Earth2Tech.com [...]

  95. Cool!…

    Hope this new innovation reduces the demand/price of fossil fuels (i.e. Oil)

    So you leaches can can get hell out of the Middle-East & leave us the f**k alone!

    PS* I feel sorry for those poor souls where Indium is found!!!!!

  96. What seems to have been missed is that the plant produces 1GW at 100 feet/min if it could get up to 2,000 feet/min which he says is theoretically possible, then he has a 20GW production facility for the same production cost as a 1GW. Not quiet but good enough this should seriously reduce the price of the modules. I would like to know the game plan are they going to wait until PV becomes, price competitive with grid electricity before they jack up the through put of the plant reduce price and gain market share or are they going to increase through put now and try and reduce price so that it is compatable with the grid now. I suspect that they will install more lines during the next few years subsidies for building in East Germany and the feed in tariff which will most likely be renewed this year is a nice easy safe easy way to do this and when PV become competitive with the grid. speed up the through put and drop prices and grab as big a share of the market as possible. I live right on the German boarder and when I go into the German village just over the boarder no more than a couple of hundred meters from where I live I see many houses with large PV arrays. A farmer I know has both the roofs of his barns covered in PV arrays. I only wish we had the same here in Holland.

  97. [...] of it by Popular Science. (it ends on a magic toaster at that point the illustration is complete.)10 Questions with Nanosolar CEO Martin Roscheisen from Earth2Tech.comInnovaLight is also making a [...]

  98. WHERE ARE THE PANELS…? ? ? ? ?
    FRANCE? to their investors?

    Could be that the Silicon panel manufacturers have bullied this guys to keep their prices high, or to protect their market?

    What is going on?

    Martin Roscheisen says, in Q # 10:
    We are lined up with the industry’s top system integrators as our partners, [who are they, we don't see any Unisolar panels yet; and why they enjoy such exclusive rights to their product?] and it is clear we are going to be manufacturing capacity limited for about as far out as we can see.

    [why, if they have a WINNER solar panel, that can be manufactured in huge amounts using “roll to roll” technology, and have a line of investors at their doors? and what is keeping them from “doing it”.
    “technology greed”, patent problems, or technical problems?

    This is a fierce market and another perhaps even bigger breakthrough in solar panel technology can happen anywhere else at anytime, if they don’t jump on the bandwagon and get as much of their share as they can, and contribute to the clean energy development and IMPLEMENTATION, they could be out of business in a blink.

    Too much cautiousness is detrimental to any business, risk and win.

  99. [...] catch? Critics point out that the technology relies on indium, which has a finite supply. You can read some interviews, or watch a video for more [...]

  100. I’d also like to know the energy conversion efficiency of these solar film substrates. I remember doing work on optoelectronics and solid state electronics during my time at Univeristy, and remember typical bulk-technology processes for silicon p-n junctions achieving power efficiencies of between 10%-20%.

    What does concern me is the projected rate of manufacturing as well as the the lack of any real information on whether this technology will ever become available to the general public. I suspect their clients are more likely aligned towards the interests of government entities and energy companies who are keen on suppressing the availability of low-cost renewable energy supplies to the masses.

    There’s always China I suppose…

  101. Your product sounds great! First, I would like to know how my grandson, going to Texas Tech next year, could earn extra money, buying your product and installing in homes in Lubbock, Texas. He is a hard worker and eager to learn new ideas. Please inform me if he could possibly use your fine product to help finance his training in school.

  102. Please give me information on how a hard working, intelligent young man, Tirey McInnes, could contact you for employment in the near future at Lubbock, Texas. Gratefully yours, Georgia Barham, 1816 Mojave Place, Irving, Texas 75061 phone 9727937743

  103. Kent R. Corral,M.|D. Friday, October 24, 2008

    Excellent and encouraging interview/article.Florida recently passed utility regulations requiring “net metering”.There are now a majority of states mandating this arrangement.Understandably nanosolar has pursued utility accounts as the first step. Still it would seem this technology if truly available at $0.99 kw/h should be “diffused” to every rooftop.Kent R. Corral,M.D.

  104. Are the above questions answered. If so where can i find the answer to these questions.
    My question is how can i have nano solar panel system for my house in St.Clairsville ohio 43950
    What is to cost for a home with two persons and five bed rooms. Chokkavelu

  105. Hi…….

    Please visit our friendly website.

  106. I’m afraid I have to agree with Almeida, if Nanosolar (who I have been following for some time now) doesn’t go mainstream soon, another, possibly better technology could take it’s place while you are getting your sea legs. There is also a real chance the Chinese will pirate the IP and bring it to a hungry market at a price that you can’t compete with. Acting when the market is ripe is pretty key. Time to make your move Marty!

  107. Are you trying to make it easyier and less expensive for people to buy and make the solar panels for the planet?

  108. It is my belief that nanosolar will go public when it reaches $10 billion in annual sales

  109. [...] Cost-effective solar power would be a very big silver BB in a Peak Oil mitigation plan. Nanosolar has the potential to deliver a game-changing thin-film photovoltaic technology. If you don’t know much about Nanosolar, check out this interview with their CEO: 10 Questions for Nanosolar CEO Martin Roscheisen [...]

  110. [...] in 2002 — to leave a company as it moves from small startup to large-scale manufacturer. Here’s a 10 question interview with Roscheisen we did back in the Summer of [...]


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