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Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Combining Research And Business Into An Innovative Start-Up

Absolicon Solar Concentrator Ab from Sweden is a company which was born out of research conducted by the Royal Institute of Technology and various other universities and grew into a well funded business. The Nordic countries are well known for investing heavily into education and university research; but research alone is not enough if it’s not transformed into a commercial product. Good that Absolicon was able to make that jump and pursue a largely untapped niche.

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Commercial solar products usually pursue either the solar water heater market or the solar electricity market. One gives you hot water for the shower and the other powers your electronic devices with electricity from the sun. To combine both into one product seems thus like an evident idea: In that way we can save costs and space.

But what sounds so easy and obvious actually took about five years of research. From 2002 till 2007 the universities were combining different technologies into one product: Solar Thermal Panels, Photovoltaic Panels, Solar Trackers, a PLC/ Solar Heat Tracker and a fixed Stand. The result is one product which offers their users the two most used forms of the sun’s power: Heat and Electricity. The advantage is that one saves space on roof tops and on land, spends less time installing and maintaining different systems, and spends less money on different systems while gaining higher efficiency. The end result is the X10, which is manufactured in Sweden and is available in lengths from 6 to 18 meters.

Investments came from two sources, 3m SEK from The Swedish Savings Bank Foundation and 4m SEK from Exoro Capital. While the three million SEK will be used to develop a solar energy laboratory in Härnösand, the four million SEK will be used to enter the Spanish market, which currently is the most important market in Europe. Absolicon already has a few installed X10s in Spain, and hopefully during 2010 many more will follow.

I long have been a supporter of solar power, both in form of solar water heaters and for electricity production. Absolicon has combined the best of two worlds into a smart product, and at the moment seems to be the only company out there which offers such technology. Going to Spain, which is investing heavily into solar power, is a smart move, as solar power is still perceived as not feasible here in the north with our long winters – wrongly, as I think and some installations are proving. The question remains if four million SEK will be enough to get a foothold in Spain, and if the company would be advised to also look to the Middle East and developing countries to sell their product.

Photo courtesy of Absolicon and Joakim Byström.

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