Blue Square Energy: Interview with solar CEO Joseph Babin

Bright Point silicon solar test cell, company structure, Technical Advisory Board, status, and UMG.

BSElogo First, “Blue Square Energy Announces 14.6 Percent Efficient Solar Cell on Upgraded Metallurgical Grade Silicon” was the third press release in a week from resurgent start-up Blue Square Energy (BSE).

Blue Square Energy has succeeded in producing a Bright Point technology silicon solar test cell with 14.6% percent conversion efficiency. BSE claims this “efficiency result is one of the highest in the world on upgraded metallurgical grade (UMG) silicon and has been verified independently by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).”

Bright Point technology deposits a fine layer of high-grade silicon onto a 4N (four nines or 99.99% pure) UMG silicon substrate. I first described BSE’s Bright Point technology about a year ago in “Blue Square Energy also presents at Alternative Energy Innovations 2007”. BSE has dropped using the “boron rich” adjective from the technology description.

I had a chance to discuss recent, rapid developments at Blue Square Energy with new CEO and President Joe Babin. Our first topic was the resolution of the BSE “Leadership issues” brought to light in Blue Square Energy: Solar plans stalled at funding round.

Per Mr. Babin, former BSE CEO Jeff Barnett began to view the situation with a fresh perspective and agreed to an executive management change while retaining his seat on the BSE Board of Directors.

In addition, Dr. Allen Barnett’s visionary role at BSE has been fortified. Mr. Babin said Dr. Barnett is motivated to achieve the successful commercialization of Bright Point technology through active participation. Retaining his Consultant title and seat on the BSE Board or Directors, Dr. Barnett has been named to the just created Blue Square Energy Technical Advisory Board. Former University of Delaware colleague, Dr. Christiana Honsberg, now a Professor of Electrical Engineering with Arizona State University, is also a member of the BSE Technical Advisory Board, and BSE is recruiting a third board member.

The Technical Advisory Board is intended to complement the leadership and execution experience of CEO Babin and new Chief Technology and Operating Officer (CTO/COO) Dr. Stephen Costantino (“Dr. Stephen Costantino Joins Blue Square Energy Management Team”) with photovoltaic specific insights, analysis, and direction for BSE’s technology and product development efforts.

During the internal management conflict, Mr. Babin claims BSE took care to keep the core technical team in tact. In addition, some technical team members that chose to leave BSE may return to the new organization. Mr. Babin recognizes the challenges his team faces bringing Bright Point silicon solar cells to market and admitted those efforts were “delayed a year” at this point. However, Mr. Babin said the time had been used to redesign production equipment and teased about additional product and performance announcements in the near future beyond the consistent Bright Point silicon solar test cell results.

As a matter of routine, I asked Mr. Babin who was the source of the 4N UMG silicon used in Bright Point? Jiawei Solarchina was his response. Jiawei Solarchina claims to have:

Confidential sources claim Chinese UMG suppliers can only produce 4N to 5N purity UMG silicon. While not usable for mainstream silicon solar cells, the 4N to 5N purity level is perfect for Bright Point UMG silicon substrates.

In June 2008, Jefferies & Company, Inc. lead a $30M Convertible Notes Offering for Dynamic Green Energy, Ltd. also known as Jaiwei Solarchina. Besides Blue Square Energy, Jaiwei Solarchina customers include SunPower Corporation and GE Energy (previously AstroPower).

Blue Square Energy Raising $25M for Dirty, Efficient Solar” by Craig Rubens at Earth2Tech was the first to report Blue Square Energy has reinitiated efforts to raise a $25 million funding round.

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