Nanosolar To Get $20M From The DOE

Apparently $100 million in funding isn’t enough for thin film startup Nanosolar. The Palo Alto, Calif.-based company has been awarded $20 million from the Department of Energy, which includes $9.5 million through October 2008. Whoa, how much money does the company need?

Nanosolar says the funding is the “largest net amount” any company is receiving as part of the agency’s Solar America Initiative. CEO Martin Roscheisen, whom we previously interviewed, writes in his blog that “the competition was stiff and included every single significant solar company in this country, including SunPower (SPWR), First Solar (FSLR), [and] General Electric (GE).”

In the short-term, the grant will provide Nanosolar with about $9.5 million through October 2008. That’s chump change compared to the company’s total funding to date, raised from venture firms like Benchmark Capital and Mohr Davidow. Trying to manufacture copper indium gallium selenide-based thin film technology on a large scale is a costly endeavor. And it’s a well-funded space, filled with many multimillion-dollar backed competitors including Heliovolt and Miasole.

Miasole is reportedly in the process of raising more funding, too. CNET cites unnamed sources close to the company as saying the funding is underway, and we’ve had our own suspicions for awhile now that the company is raising a big round. One can only guess exactly how much.

Thin film technology promises to be cheaper than traditional solar technology because it uses little or no silicon, and it can be printed on flexible materials. But there’s a trade off, as those developing the technology are still struggling to boost its efficiency levels.