From sand to solar panels: Maana Electric opens production site

Space startup Maana Electric on Thursday opened its first production facility in Luxembourg where it is working on technology to turn sand into solar panels.

The terrestrial application of Maana Electric’s technology aims at helping speed up the green transition but the company is also shooting for space, with plans to apply the technology to build solar panels with sand on the moon as a source of energy.

This could, for example, help with establishing a permanent presence on the moon, one of the steps in the moon to Mars mission. Maana targets deploying its technology on the moon by the end of the decade.

“You tick all the boxes: an innovative startup, focused on green technologies that fits into our space initiative,” said economy minister Franz Fayot (LSAP) during the opening of the Foetz production site on Thursday.

The product is also of interest for Fayot’s role as development cooperation minister, with development agency LuxDev looking at exporting the solar panel production system to Burkina Faso to contribute to the country’s energy independence.

The solar panel factory fits its shipping containers, with this so-called TerraBox energy self-sufficient within six to eight months after being set up. CEO and co-founder Joost van Oorschot said the next challenge would be to improve the technology’s efficiency to use less sand and produce solar panels that generate more electricity.

The company has grown from five entrepreneurs to 45 staff and could grow to as many as 60 to 70 by the end of the year, said Van Oorschot.

Read an interview with Maana Electric co-founder Fabrice Testa about the company’s vision in the latest edition of Delano.