“An innovator has the responsibility to overcome scepticism and solve unknown problems in order to create the solutions for tomorrow”
How does QB work? “The company uses high frequency electric pulses, generated from the use of pyroelectric films, to create quantum states in the solar cell. These allow the solar cells to harvest the energy of hot electrons,” explains Kumar. In other words, the QB technology controls the flow of energy in solar cells in order to regulate solar power conversion and increase the cell’s efficiency.
Ultrasolar ultimately aims to “make solar energy cheaper than fossil, coal and nuclear fuel, and to make it the best source of energy in the world, so that human lifestyle in the future does not destroy nature.” Indeed Kumar believes that “nature already has its plan to change the world and we are just part of the means that nature has picked to create that change.”
A solar partnership with effective results
“We began with a laboratory prototype and, by working closely together in an Open Innovation style, we managed to engineer and test the Quantum Boost. This is a small device that can easily be integrated into every photovoltaic module. As a product, it’s absolutely unique, in spite of its simplicity”
Enel representatives first visited Ultrasolar Technology’s facilities in Santa Clara, California in 2015 in order to see the prototype’s test performance. Following the initial tests, both companies continued to work together and they subsequently integrated the new QB technology at the Enel Innovation Hub in Catania, Italy. Kumar recalls that it took some time, but in 2016, “We managed to get it right after making some changes to the product, and the device produced around an 8% to 10% improvement in power. The staff at Enel were impressed.”
He goes on to emphasise the fact that success was made possible thanks to “the help of Enel engineers, who worked very hard to create the right testing environment and to help us build the best device.”
Since then, Enel and Ultrasolar have signed additional collaboration agreements and have continued testing and improving the QB. This is in order to make it more affordable and more capable of managing high volumes. Ultrasolar’s collaboration with Enel has helped the company achieve its objectives, which also coincide with Enel’s long-term plans.
The perfect environment for innovation and growth
Kumar explains that the collaboration is beneficial for both parties: “We will help Enel reduce the LCOE (levelised cost of energy) for solar installations by a large percentage, and Enel will use our product in high volumes, which will sustain our business.” He also notes that he has been especially impressed by the dedication of the Enel team, as well as the hospitality and enthusiasm of the local people in Sicily. “This experience has really helped us refine our product and business plan. We love working here at the Innovation Hub in Catania and we will encourage everyone to follow our example,” adds Kumar.
Ultrasolar is currently working on scaling up its technology and it foresees widespread deployment of the QB devices in the future. “Now we are interested in joining hands with a solar panel company, such as 3SUN, so that we can sell combined panels to the industry, because the industry needs this. I am personally very interested in working with them.” As Ultrasolar looks to the future, the newly inaugurated Catania Innovation Hub & Lab provides the perfect environment for both companies to continue innovating together.