Amonix, a developer of 20-ton concetrating photovoltaic solar systems for utility-scale projects, has bought San Francisco startup Sunworks Solar, a developer of thin-film solar panel factories. Founded in August 2008 (just ahead of the fourth-quarter downturn), Sunworks sought to create a “platform” for utility-scale solar developments, bringing together project finance, manufacturing services, equipment, work with local governments and other pieces of the puzzle for setting up manufacturing stateside in a time when the founders observed huge amounts of capital were going to overseas solar manufacturers.
Amonix also snagged a trio of Sunworks executives along with the purchase. Sunworks co-founder Brian Robertson — who also co-founded SunEdison – is now taking on the role of chief executive at Amonix as part of the deal announced Monday night, while Sunworks co-founder Guy Blanchard and managing director Matthew Meares will lead Amonix’s corporate development and project finance, respectively.
Amonix, which is based in Torrance, Calif., and backed by venture firms Kleiner Perkins and MissionPoint Capital Partners, has not disclosed the financial terms of the Sunworks acquisition. The deal closed last month, just ahead of Amonix raising $40 million as part of a $98.23 million funding effort reportedly meant to help the company finance the addition of 300 MW of production capacity at two manufacturing facilities.
This latest deal comes as part of a larger trend of consolidation in the solar industry. Robertson’s previous solar brainchild, solar installer and power provider SunEdison, also got acquired last month — in a $200 million deal with silicon wafer maker MEMC Electronic Materials that MEMC hopes will help drive demand for MEMC’s wafer business as well as provide a recurring revenue stream from SunEdison’s solar-generated electricity.
While Sunworks and Amonix have focused on manufacturing, the Sunworks acquisition comes amid what Lux Research analyst Ted Sullivan described to us last month as a shift toward a more fabless market. “Given how much capacity is out there, there is no reason to build you own [cells] to prove new technologies.” The availability of “so much idle production capacity sitting around in East Asia,” may be opening opportunities for solar startups with no means or intention of producing their own cells.