It was only mid-August when we heard that HelioVolt had raised a whopper of a $77 million Series B round. But given it’s taking many thin film solar startups a lot of capital to get to the production stage, we’re not surprised that this morning the Austin, Texas-based company said it has closed the second part of its Series B round, bringing its total funding to over $100 million. Investors included Sequel Venture Partners, Noventi Ventures, and Passport Capital.
HelioVolt will use the funds to start manufacturing its solar technology, which is made from copper indium gallium selendide (CIGS). Competitors like Nanosolar and Miasolé, which are using the same materials, have also raised large funds and are struggling to start production. When they finally get there, the global thin-film photovoltaic market is expected to be sizable: $7.2 billion by 2015 from just over $1 billion today, according to research firm NanoMarkets.
HelioVolt’s CEO B.J. Stanbery told us recently that the company expects to begin production in the fall of 2008, and will ramp that up into full production in 2009. That’s a little later than the company’s competitors, and Stanbery admits that on that front they’re “not being as aggressive as some people.”
Most thin-film technology promises to be cheaper than traditional solar technology because it uses little or no silicon, and in some cases, 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. Stanbery told us that HelioVolt’s products will be in the 10 to 12 percent range of efficiency.