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Summary:

First Solar competitor AVA Solar says it has raised a round of $104 million to produce its thin film solar photovoltaics. The news comes on the heels of the massive $300 million round announced this week by thin film solar startup Nanosolar. Solar funding is hotter than the lights at the Pepsi Center this week.

It’s hotter than the lights at the Pepsi Center in the world of solar funding this week. On the heels of the news that thin-film solar startup Nanosolar has raised $300 million (bringing its total funding to half a billion dollars), solar startup AVA Solar announced late Wednesday it has raised a massive $104 million in equity financing from DCM, Technology Partners, GLG Partners, Bohemian Companies, and Invus.

AVA is working on making thin-film photovoltaics out of cadmium telluride — the same material that has boosted First Solar to its solar darling status — so everyone is interested to see how the company will stack up to the leader. In some of the Fort Collins-based company’s literature it boasts it can produce solar PV modules at a cost below $1/watt. First Solar calls its manufacturing cost per watt of $1.14/watt for the first quarter of 2008, “the lowest in the industry;” that production cost will also likely come down over the coming months and years.

We’ll see what AVA’s production costs end up being after it starts up its 200-megawatt solar PV factory sometime this year. The company appears to be using a similar process to First Solar, depositing a thin layer of cadmium telluride on glass.

AVA says it has reached “distributed conversion efficiencies around 11.5 percent” — First Solar has similar efficiency, and has reported an average of 10.7 percent with its cells, and a goal of 12 percent.

If AVA could end up being able to produce its PV more cheaply than First Solar, it would put them in a good position to enter the new, massive market of utility-scale and rooftop solar. First Solar brought in revenues of $267 million for the most recent quarter, 36 percent above the $196 million in the previous quarter and more than three times larger than the $77 million in the second quarter of 2007.

It’s not always hip to be a company a little later to the game. Eric Wesoff and the Greenlight crew, who tipped off the story of AVA’s funding yesterday, talked to investors that passed on AVA’s funding, because the valuation was too high, and the deal was too much of a copycat of First Solar. But AVA could still create a sizable business. AVA was incubated out of the labs at Colorado State University with a partnership with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and formed in January 2007.

By Katie Fehrenbacher

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  1. I would sure like to purchase solar panels under $2.00 per peak watt. I have been hearing this same story for years now and no fruit has appeared.
    This my be just another BS story!

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  2. [...] been news of hundreds of millions pumped into thin-film solar startups, with both Nanosolar and AVA Solar announcing massive rounds. Well, it’s not over yet, folks. This morning Venture Wire says that thin film [...]

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  3. [...] Cadmium is used in one of the leading new thin-film PV panel types, but as a compound that manufacturers argue is much safer than cadmium alone. Thin-film solar leader First Solar uses cadmium-telluride to make the semiconductors that are sandwiched between two sheets of glass to convert the sunlight into electricity. So do newer startups like AVA Solar. [...]

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  4. [...] Cadmium is used in one of the leading new thin-film PV panel types, but as a compound that manufacturers argue is much safer than cadmium alone. Thin-film solar leader First Solar uses cadmium-telluride to make the semiconductors that are sandwiched between two sheets of glass to convert the sunlight into electricity. So do newer startups like AVA Solar. [...]

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  5. the more competition there is, the cheaper the panels will become. which is nice :)

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  6. AVASolar is Vaporware!

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  7. [...] Beat sector leader First Solar on cost. When we covered Abound’s massive $104 million equity financing round last summer, we noted that it was using the same material (cadmium telluride) that helped catapult [...]

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  8. [...] after more than a decade of development at Colorado State University. Abound raised $104 million equity financing in 2008 from DCM, Technology Partners, GLG Partners, Bohemian Companies and [...]

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