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Rhodia invests in breakthrough photovoltaic technology

Rhodia invests in breakthrough photovoltaic technology

News release

Paris, September 14th, 2010 ---- Rhodia has joined with the UK's Carbon Trust in a £4.5 million equity offering of the solar energy start-up Eight19 to develop "organic photovoltaic” technology. This investment will allow Rhodia to be actively involved in the development of this new technology, bringing its industrial know-how and best-in-class research capabilities.

The breakthrough organic photovoltaic technology will use semi-conducting organic polymers to provide solar power at a price substantially lower than that offered by first and second-generation technologies. The solar cells will be similar in appearance to photographic films and be flexible, lightweight and extremely easy to install, allowing to address new market segments such as building integrated photovoltaics (BIPV), intelligent fabrics, mobile electric equipment or self-powered electronic devices.

The photovoltaic market is expected to expand rapidly, with growth rates of 20% to 30% per year. According to Rhodia and its partners, organic photovoltaic technology should enable the deployment of low carbon electricity on a very large scale.

This investment is perfectly in line with our strategy to explore new promising market segments fitting with our sustainable development commitment. Furthermore, we are convinced that open innovation is key to leverage our research and development capability. We are happy to work in close partnership with prominent scientists to develop this breakthrough technology”, explains Pascal Juery, Group Executive Vice-President of Rhodia.

Eight19 is a start up company spinning out of Cambridge University’s Cavendish Laboratory. Eight19 is developing organic photovoltaic devices, or printed solar cells, and is moving to a commercial phase to develop, manufacture and sell high performance, low-cost printed solar modules for high-growth volume markets. Rhodia, Carbon Trust, a private company set up by UK Government to accelerate the move to a low carbon economy, and The Technology Partnership, a technology and product development company are the main investment partners.

Sir Richard Friend, Cavendish Professor at Cambridge University and laureate of the Rhodia Pierre-Gilles de Gennes Award in 2008 is one of the three founding scientists who will have continued engagement as a Board Director. This prize was awarded for his seminal work on electroluminescence in semi-conducting polymers. The distinction enabled Rhodia and Sir Richard to maintain close ties and, subsequently, to develop this collaboration.

Rhodia is an international chemical company resolutely committed to sustainable development. As a leader in its businesses, the Group aims to improve its customers’ performance through the pursuit of operational excellence and its ability to innovate. Structured around six Enterprises, Rhodia is the partner of major players in the automotive, electronics, flavors and fragrances, health, personal and home care markets, consumer goods and industrial markets. The Group employs around 13,600 people worldwide and generated sales of €4.03 billion in 2009. Rhodia is listed on Euronext Paris.


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