Solar-tech firm granted nearly $3M


In July, Toledo's newest solar-tech contender brought in $7 million in venture capital investment. Today, it's collecting nearly $3 million more, this time in government funding.

Xunlight Corp., founded by University of Toledo Professor Xunming Deng, was one of two local firms awarded grants yesterday from the National Institute of Standards and Technology. It formerly was MWOE Inc.

The company hopes to drive down the per-watt price of solar generation with what Mr. Deng says is a low-cost method of making super-thin solar material at its Nebraska Avenue facility.

"The real barrier is to bring the cost-per-watt down to where solar energy is competitive with grid energy," said Michael Baum, a NIST spokesman.

Xunlight's production methods could be "faster and higher-quality than is currently possible, and could foreseeably have a real major impact."

Today, solar energy costs $1.50 to $2.50 per watt, Mr. Deng said. "We want to significantly reduce that," he said.

It's been a banner couple of weeks for Xunlight and Mr. Deng. The Xunlight chief executive officer just returned from a national solar energy conference, Solar Power 2007 in Long Beach, Calif., where the company's lightweight and flexible solar module was introduced.

Also receiving nearly $2 million in NIST funding was Deep Springs Technology Inc., of Toledo. The company is developing materials to improve oil and gas recovery from wells. Company representatives could not be reached for comment.