iPhone 5 case: Ascent to ship solar-powered charger

A new iPhone 5 is displayed at an A new iPhone 5 is displayed at an Apple Store on in San Francisco. (Sept. 22, 2012) Photo Credit: Getty Images

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Ascent Solar Technologies Inc., the U.S. solar company that fell the most on record Thursday, will ship a sun-powered charging case for Apple Inc.'s iPhone 5 in December as it continues its transition to consumer electronics, Chief Executive Officer Victor Lee said.

The company is pursuing a "total paradigm shift" to focus on selling products to consumers instead of developers of large-scale solar power plants, said Lee, who was hired as CEO of the Thornton, Colorado-based company in February.

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A watt of solar cells installed on a consumer device sells for more than a watt installed on a rooftop, insulating the company from thinning margins as prices for photovoltaic panels fall, Lee said in an interview yesterday.

"By going downstream we are actually going up the entire value chain," Lee said.

The company's shares fell a record 29 percent Thursday after it said it will raise about $11 million in a secondary offering. Lee declined to discuss the plan. He is also executive director of Shenzhen, China-based TFG Radiant Investment Group Ltd., which owns 39 percent of Ascent.

Lee dates the company's shift to consumer electronics to June, when Ascent announced its first solar charging case for Apple's iPhone 4 model. Those products began shipping this month and he expects the company to be profitable by the third quarter of 2013, with consumer products generating as much as 80 percent of revenue.

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Ascent hasn't reported a profitable quarter since it went public in 2006, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The company is also pursuing aerospace, transportation and off-grid applications for its solar products.

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