A solar startup with a new type of technology, and funding from Kleiner Perkins and the Department of Energy, will start cutting staff next month, reports Dow Jones Venture Wire. Amonix, which makes concentrating solar photovoltaic tech (CPV) that uses mirrors to concentrate sunlight onto solar cells, will cut 76 workers across its offices in California, according to the report.
Earlier this year Amonix, through its manufacturing service provider Flextronics, also laid off about 200 out of roughly 300 workers at its North Las Vegas solar equipment factory. The company said back then that it made the move so it could modify the production equipment for making a new product later this year. I’m not sure if the workers were ever rehired.
Amonix’s technology has gone into a high profile, large solar project in Colorado that was backed by a $90 million Department of Energy loan guarantee and is owned by a company called Cogentrix (owned by Goldman Sachs). That 30 MW project — one of the largest of its kind using CPV tech — started producing power in Colorado already, says Dow Jones.
The company managed to raise $129.4 million in the Spring of 2010 from investors Kleiner Perkins, Westly Group and the Angeleno Group, as well $25 million from Goldman Sachs and MissionPoint. Dow Jones reports that Amonix also had a $9.5 million federal tax credit and a $15.6 million Department of Energy grant. That’s in addition to the DOE loan guarantee for the Cogentrix project.
Amonix’s technology uses lenses to concentrate sunlight 500 times onto triple-junction solar cells. Each system has 53-kilowatts of generation capacity and is made up of 7 giant modules mounted on a dual-axis tracker. Each module measures 10-ft. by 49-ft and contains 36 sets of lenses and receivers; each receiver contains 30 solar cells.
CPV-evangelists says that the technology promises to significantly reduce the amount of solar cells needed for a solar project, which make up a big part of the cost of a solar energy system. The systems can also be smaller and more modular so can be built in more diverse places than the massive desert solar thermal plants. Well, that’s the idea anyways — the technology is still nascent.