Summary:

Solar startups are winning venture investment like bookies at the Belmont — 35 solar venture deals this year, for a total of $664.6 million. And the Valley has its fair share of well-known, well-funded solar firms. But where can you find new innovation in solar cells […]

quantasol.jpgSolar startups are winning venture investment like bookies at the Belmont — 35 solar venture deals this year, for a total of $664.6 million. And the Valley has its fair share of well-known, well-funded solar firms. But where can you find new innovation in solar cells with a hot technology called concentrating photovoltaic systems? Quiet Surrey, England (where I once gorged myself on a pub brunch of bangers and Guinness).

That’s where you’ll find startup QuantaSol, which just opened shop in June. The company, a spin-out from the Imperial College of London, currently has less than 10 people working on a new type of solar cells for concentrating solar systems. Concentrating solar technology uses lenses and curved mirrors to concentrate sunlight onto solar cells, and those cells have to be more durable because of the additional heat and light; the design also produces more current than standard PV. QuantaSol CEO Kevin Arthur says concentrating solar is the best solution for adding a lot of clean power in dense — even urban — locations.

Using nanotechnology, QuantaSol can tweak the cells in the manufacturing process to be made “application specific,” explains Arthur, meaning they can be tinkered to optimum efficiency for a customer’s specific environment. While the efficiency add might only be on the order of 1 percent or so, the 25-year life span of a solar system would make it worth the investment, says Arthur. The company’s standard cells have efficiencies ranging from 27 percent to 35 percent.

In order to get its cells to the market and further ramp up production, QuantaSol is working on raising a Series A round, which it hopes to start in January and finish by next May. They’re looking for an investment in the range of $10 million to $20 million. The company raised a seed round of $2.7 million in June that was led by the Imperial Innovations Group and Low Carbon Accelerator.

As it grows, adds funds and starts shipping products to customers that build these concentrating solar systems, QuantaSol is also hoping to open an office somewhere in California. Come on over, guys. We can’t compete on pub brunch, but the breakfast at Bucks has its own rewards.

By Katie Fehrenbacher

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