FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – A $2 million grant to Picasolar Inc. announced Wednesday demonstrates
the importance of the Arkansas Research and Technology Park in fostering new companies
that create jobs through the commercial development of new technologies.
The U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Incubator Award will be matched with $2 million
from Picasolar, a solar start-up company that is affiliated with the research park,
an innovation hub that works in association with the U of A to commercialize emerging
The SunShot award is the result of the company’s patent-pending hydrogen super emitter
process to increase the efficiency of solar cells and could ultimately lead to new
high-tech manufacturing jobs in Northwest Arkansas.
Jim Rankin, vice provost for research and economic development at the U of A, said
Picasolar’s solar cell technology was developed by U of A students under the mentorship
of Hameed Naseem, professor of electrical engineering.
“Picasolar is a great example of the startups and jobs that are being created here
at the research park that are benefiting the state,” Rankin said. “Energy and the
environment is one the six interdisciplinary strengths at the university. Picasolar
is a prime example of the benefits from the research in that area.”
Douglas Hutchings, Picasolar’s founder and chief executive officer, said the SunShot
award is among the most prestigious and competitive grants a solar start-up company
can receive. Hutchings founded the company in 2013.
The latest SunShot award will use the latest grant to begin using its hydrogen super
emitter technology in a pilot manufacturing project, with the goal of producing 1,000
solar panels with the technology inside. The technology improves solar cell efficiency
and reduces the amount of silver needed in the manufacture of solar panels, making
them more marketable and affordable.
Picasolar is partnering on the project with Yingli Green Energy Americas, a top global
solar panel manufacturer, and the Energy Research Center of the Netherlands, a worldwide
leader in solar technology development.
“We are convinced that when we get to the point when we can deploy Picasolar’s technologies
in our production line, we will have a clear advantage over our competition,” said
Sergiu Pop, R&D director for Yingli Green Energy Americas.