Suniva Raises $75 Million for Expansion
The Georgia solar cellstartup began production last fall and has signed nearly $1 billionworth of contracts with panel makers.
The Norcross, Ga.-based startup lined up the C round from WarburgPincus and Apex Venture Partners, as well as previous investors NewEnterprise Associates, HIG Ventures and Advanced Equities.
Suniva raised $50 million in February 2008 to build its first factory. It started production on a 32-megawatt line last October,after it announced roughly $1 billion worth of contracts with Solon inGermany and Titan Energy Systems in India last year (see Suniva Scores $480M Solar Cell Contract). Suniva makes cells and sell them to panel makers.
The company has reached the full production rate, said companyspokesman David Briggs. The cells have been assembled into panels,which are available in the U.S. market.
Suniva is now gearing up to add a 64-megawatt production line at the same factory in Norcross this summer, Suniva said.
Founded in 2006, Suniva’s technology came from the research of AjeetRohatgi at the Georgia Institute of Technology’s University Center ofExcellence for Photovoltaic Research. Rohatgi serves as Suniva’s chieftechnology officer.
The company focuses on improving screen-printing solar cells, acommon manufacturing technology, and lowering production costs formonocrystalline silicon cells. Changes that Suniva is implementing enable the cells’ semiconductors to produce more power and reduce electron losses.
Suniva hasn’t disclosed its manufacturing costs.
Suniva said the solar cells that roll off its factory could convertat least 18 percent of the sunlight that hits the cells intoelectricity.
San Jose, Calif.-based SunPower currently produces the mostefficient monocrystalline silicon solar cells and turns them intopanels for the market. The public company is shipping cells with 22.5efficiency.
China-based Suntech Power, meanwhile, has produced monorystalline cells capable of achieving near 19 percent efficiency, the company said in March this year.
SunPower’s former chief operating officer, PM Pai, joined Suniva’s board of directors earlier this year.
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