The funds come from Canada-based Enbridge, an oil and gas distribution company that recently became a solar power plant developer (the company also invests in wind, geothermal and fuel cell installations). The money is the first solar technology investment by Enbridge, which owns three solar farms that use First Solar’s solar panels. Enbridge could potentially become a Morgan Solar customer down to road, too.
The funding from Enbridge closes the B round, which totals $28.8 million. Morgan Solar’s co-founder and vice president of business development and marketing, Nicolas Morgan, told us earlier this year that the company wanted to raise $20-$25 million. The company, based in Toronto, Canada, needed the capital to jumpstart production at a factory in California, where it also has gotten a $3.3 million loan from the California Energy Commission to set up its manufacturing facility in Chula Vista, near San Diego.
The factory will start with an annual capacity of 8 megawatts, said Emma Hemmingsen, Morgan Solar’s communication manager. The factory equipment has already arrived, and the company plans to get it up and running in the first quarter of 2012, she added. Morgan Solar has a panel assembly plant in Toronto and uses optics made by Nypro, which is also an investor. But the California factory is key for Morgan Solar to move into the mass production mode. The company previously was hoping to start production this year.
Morgan Solar is a developer of concentrating photovoltaic technology, which uses mirrors and lenses to amplify and direct the sun’s energy onto solar cells. A typical CPV system is made up of one panel containing many lenses and corresponding solar cells. The panel, which is much larger than the solar panels you see on your neighbor’s rooftop, sits on a tracker that trains the panel to follow the sun’s movement throughout the day.
Depending on the designs, a concentrating solar technology can concentrate the sun by a few times or even 1,000 times, as is the case with Morgan Solar. Higher concentrating systems require more precise tracking and control systems, and they use more expensive but also more efficient solar cells that use a mix of materials such as gallium-arsenide and germanium.
Concentrating photovoltaic technology has been garnering more investments lately. California-based Solaria, which is develops low-concentrating technology, recently raised $30 million.
Aside from Enbridge and Nypro, other Morgan Solar investors include power generation giant, Iberdrola and The Frost Group. Including the B round, Morgan Solar has raised $38 million total since its inception in 2007.
Photo courtesy of Morgan Solar