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The first annual North American solar conference kicked off on Tuesday with a lot of insight and discussion from some of the solar industry’s bigger and more well-established players (Applied Materials. SunPower). But leave it to the wily fast-moving startups to upstage the big guys when […]

The first annual North American solar conference kicked off on Tuesday with a lot of insight and discussion from some of the solar industry’s bigger and more well-established players (Applied Materials. SunPower). But leave it to the wily fast-moving startups to upstage the big guys when it comes to news. Here’s five startups — Wakonda, Fat Spaniel, Recurrent Energy, Sopogy, and Ausra — that announced some interesting news for the show.

Wakonda Raises $9.5M Series A: A Boston-based maker of solar photovoltaic technology, Wakonda Technologies, says it has raised $9.5 million in a Series A round from Advanced Technology Ventures, General Catalyst Partners, Polaris Venture Partners, Applied Ventures (Applied Materials VC arm) and the Massachusetts Green Energy Fund. Wakonda explains its technology as a wafer surface treatment that enables low cost metal materials to mimic the high efficiency of more expensive semiconductor material. Wakonda says this tech is “a revolutionary method” that will reduce material costs for the solar industry.

Fat Spaniel Taps Open Platform: Solar monitoring startup Fat Spaniel is taking a cue from all those Internet and mobile startups that have learned to open their platforms to invite savvy developers to make interesting applications. Wednesday morning Fat Spaniel is launching its “Insight Platform,” or what it calls “the world’s first open intelligence platform for building, sharing and running energy data applications.” If this is indeed the first open platform of its kind for energy, it’s taken a seriously long time to get here. The energy industry needs to start incorporating the lessons of infotech a lot faster.

Recurrent Energy Raises Biggie Funds: Solar financing startup Recurrent Energy said Wednesday morning that it has raised a whopping $75 million from Hudson Clean Energy Partners. And the startup says that’s just the initial commitment from Hudson. Several solar execs have noted to me recently that if the investment tax credit, which supplies 30 percent of the cost of a solar system, is not renewed soon it could be particularly detrimental to the new startups that have built a business around solar financing. Did Recurrent need a deep-pocketed investor to reassure its customers in the face of a delayed ITC?

Hawaii’s Sopogy’s Got New Gear: Hawaiian solar thermal startup Sopogy has a new product to talk about — SopoNova 4 — which the company says is its most efficient and lowest cost micro solar thermal product available. Earlier this month Sopogy said it had started construction of one of its solar power farms on Hawaii’s Big Island at the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii.

Ausra Going (Back) Down Under: Solar thermal company Ausra officially announced the opening of Ausra Australia, which will sell the company’s solar thermal technology to the Australian market. Ausra founder David Mills first developed and deployed the company’s technology in Australia.

By Katie Fehrenbacher

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