Xunlight Raises $22M for Thin-Film Solar

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Holy Toledo, Ohio-based solar startup! Xunlight, a thin-film silicon-based solar company spun out of the University of Toledo has just announced that it has raised $22 million in Series B funding. The round was led by Trident Capital, and Emerald Technology Ventures and NGP Energy Technology Partners (which invested $7 million in Xunlight’s series A round) also participated in this second round of funding.

Xunlight has built a pilot plant for its roll-to-roll thin-film solar technology with only a 100 kW capacity. The company says it will use the new funding to build its first commercial plant, location TBD. The company has some bright minds — the founder and CEO Xunming Deng holds the world record for the most efficient single-junction amorphous silicon cell at 10.4 percent efficiency, the company says.

Xunlight’s new funding pushes the investment in silicon-based thin-film solar technology in the last month to over Update: $100 million $60 million – Optisolar just raised $38.3 million and
Sencera closed $3.6 million worth of funding. Previously listed Suniva, which raised $50 million in February, is working with thin crystalline silicon wafers, not thin-film silicon technology.

But Xunlight is also exploring non-silicon technologies as well. Along with the funding news, Xunlight announced that it has formed Xunlight 26 Solar, LLC (X26) to develop and commercialize cadmium telluride thin-film technology with another $1 million from the State of Ohio under the Alternative Energy Program. X26 will work to develop building-integrated solar solutions.

Thin-film technologies like cadmium telluride avoid the high costs and short supplies of solar-grade silicon. But as industrial silicon capacity ramps up, silicon prices will likely fall and silicon-based technologies will be able to take advantage of silicon’s high efficiency.

There is plenty of space in this sector for a variety of technologies, evidenced by Xunlight’s own R&D foray into cadmium telluride. Xunlight’s next move is to hire a number of engineers, including technicians to put Xunlight’s technology on roofs, meaning the startup might be looking at thin-film solar for residential and commercial purposes.

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