Solar Monitoring Startup Fat Spaniel Raises $18M

Solar monitoring technology doesn’t sound as whiz-bang as say methane-powered vehicles, or biofuels made from old tires. But bringing transparency to the rapidly growing solar industry, can deliver the wowee-factor, at least for investors. On Wednesday Fat Spaniel, which sells a monitoring software and service for solar and other renewable energy sources, announced that it has raised a Series B round of $18 million.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based company tells us they have now raised at least $27 million, including a $7.7 million Series A and a $2.2 million “friends and family” round. This latest investment was led by Ignition Partners and included funds from Element Partners, Chrysalix Energy, Pacific Corporate Group and interestingly Applied Ventures, the VC arm of Applied Materials.

Chip maker Applied Materials has been buying its way into the solar industry over the past few years, spending $330 million on Italy’s Baccini, a maker of metallization and testing equipment for photovoltaic solar cell production, and a $483 million acquisition of Swiss solar wafer equipment company HCT Shaping Systems.

We asked Fat Spaniel CTO Chris Beekhuis if he could see an Applied Materials acquisition down the road, and he said that given that the startup makes no solar materials he thought it was “highly unlikely” and represented a “non-traditional strategic investment.” Though Applied Materials is planning on using Fat Spaniels’ monitoring service for its corporate installations, says Beekhuis.

Monitoring the output of solar systems is important because it can help bring transparency to solar systems, aiding in billing per output and usage, monitoring the system to help with maintenance, and reducing physical visits to check on the system. All this means is solar systems will be getting smarter, which will help them proliferate. Something we can give kudos to.

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