Large Solar Company Commercializing UCF Tech and Hiring UCF Graduates

A company that is using UCF technology to transition the installation of solar power from a costly, design sophisticated and labor-intensive enterprise into a simple process has opened an office in the Central Florida Research Park.

Last April Petra Solar, headquartered in New Jersey, received $14 million in venture capital funding for product development and global market expansion.

As part of that expansion the company opened an office in the University Tower building near UCF on August 1st, 2007

Issa Batarseh, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at UCF, developed innovative power electronics that will manage the power out of the solar panels and into the grid, backup batteries and various loads. Electric solar power systems are expensive to install and require a specialized set of technical skills. In addition, these systems are susceptible to single points of failure on the solar panels or the inverter. By leveraging on UCF inventions, Petra Solar will address these issues through innovative designs that will drive modularity, affordability and easier adoption of solar power (photovoltaic) systems.

Petra Solar licensed the technology from UCF and plans to capitalize on the funds it raised to accelerate cost reduction of solar electric systems. The company plans aim at enabling solar electric systems to reach parity with the grid sooner than currently forecasted.

“We are really excited about the broad opportunities that Petra Solar’s products can address. Petra Solar’s innovative products provide truly modular and scalable photovoltaic systems. Such systems have higher efficiency, better reliability and simplified balance of system (BOS) in addition to easier maintenance.” said David Lincoln, the managing director of DFJ Element, one of the venture firms funding the expansion.

Shihab Kuran, president and CEO of Petra Solar, said the talent and technologies out of UCF are enablers to the success of Petra Solar. Dr. Batarseh, along with his colleagues and students have done excellent research and development work that is at the core of Petra Solar’s innovative products. Petra Solar has hired several of UCF graduates and planning on increasing the level of collaboration with the university. We view our relationship with UCF as a strategic one. By expanding our operations in Florida, we are bringing true commercial activities closer to the university. This allows for more focused research and enables us to provide unique career opportunities to the graduates of UCF.