HP Licenses High-Efficiency Solar Tech to Speed Innovation

HP Licenses High-Efficiency Solar Tech to Speed Innovation

Hewlett-Packard today announced that it has entered into a licensing agreement with Xtreme Energetics to incorporate HP's transparent transistor technology into highly efficient solar panels, allowing for both more productive and more widespread installations of solar power systems.

The partnership will let Xtreme Energetics' solar products collect even more energy than typical solar cells, whose electronics impede some of the light flowing to the solar collectors. Colin Williams, Xtreme's CEO, said the solar cells will be at least twice as efficiency of a traditional solar panel.

Using HP's transparent transistors also opens up new frontiers for where solar panels can be placed. These new products -- which are expected to hit the market within 2 years -- can be placed on building facades as well as on rooftops, since they allow the building's natural color to be visible through the panels.

Because more of the building will be useful for collecting solar energy, Williams said this technology will make solar power a realistic option for even the most energy-intensive facilities, like data centers.

Dan Croft, HP's director of Intellectual Property Licensing, said there are three key attributes to this technology: in addition to the innovation around transparency, the technology was envisioned to be manufactured in large areas -- up to 1 square meter at a time -- and they have to perform well to be useful.

Croft said the transparent transistor technology has been in the works for five years, developed first at Oregon State University, and then licensed to HP in February of 2006. Croft explained that the licensing program is devleoped to take some of HP's innovations and share them with companies that can take the technologies and run.

Other examples of HP's licensing of technology include the use of HP scanning technology to allow people to listen to scanned text and licensing micro-needle technology to develop more effective skin patches for drug delivery.

But Croft explained that the partnership with Xtreme Energetics hits the company's sweet spot: "HP is really looking at a new model of innovation that's focused on sustainability, and it's very encouraging that both of these core missions of HP are lined up with this project."