Solar manufacturers are reeling from overproduction and low prices, but some companies are still managing to get funded.
Last week, we reported on several funding rounds: HelioVolt raised $50 million from South Korean conglomerate SK Group; Sunpreme Ltd. raised $50 million and concentrating solar company Solaria raised $30 million.
Now, we hear that California-based GreenVolts raised $35 million in a series D round, led by multinational ABB, which plans to market the large-scale solar system to utilities and businesses.
GreenVolts thinks its concentrating photovoltaic (CPV) system can compete with the rapidly dropping prices of solar PV – its Fresnel lense focuses light onto several super-efficient solar cells the size of a finger tip.
The company has a vertical integration model, which should help it compete on price – it will build all the components in-house, including the optics, tracker, inverter, and management software, and those components will be able to communicate with each other, further raising efficiences.
Also, its high-efficiency gallium arsenide solar cells are rising in efficiency faster than those that rely on polysilicon or thin-film materials, says the company.
Founded in 2005, Greenvolts has now raised $120 million.
“The technology combines simplicity and precision with unmatched performance, fast installation, easy operation and low cost of production,” says Peter Leupp, head of ABB’s Power Systems division. “Our extensive footprint, which covers all key solar markets in the world, will help us to make this technology globally accessible.”
Another solar company, Morgan Solar, also completed a funding round, raising $28.8 million.
$9.8 million of that comes from an unexpected investor – Canadian tar sands distributor and pipeline builder, Enbridge.
Morgan Solar is also commercializing a CPV technology, called Sun Simba. The concentrators are purportedly lighter weight than those on the market, insulating them from wind damage and making them applicable to a wider range of situations. They also cost less.
Enbridge’s primary business is oil and gas distribution but it has invested in a few solar energy projects that use traditional flat photovoltaic panels. Morgan Solar is the first solar technology it has invested in.
The money will be used to expand manufacturing capacity of Morgan Solar’s concentrating-photovoltaic modules and trackers.