Sopogy Scores $9M Funding from Omidyar, Hawaiian Investors

The small-scale solar thermal startup Sopogy that we reported was in the process of raising a $9 million round last October, has closed that round from investors including the investment vehicle of eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, Ohana Holdings. The folks at New Energy Finance reported the news, and after digging through regulatory filings, Nathaniel Bullard, senior analyst at New Energy Finance reported that the $9.1 million round also included local investors Bethel Tech Holdings, Energy Industries Holdings, Kolohala Holdings, Black River Asset Management and Hawaiian video game entrepreneur Henk Rogers.

Well, Google and former dotcom entrepreneur Bill Gross have been busy investing in solar thermal power plants, so why not eBay’s founder? (Perhaps we should add him to our list of 25 Who Ditched Infotech for Cleantech). And former eBay President Jeff Skoll has invested in thin-film solar startup Nanosolar. New Energy Finance notes that Omidyar’s Ohana Holdings has actively been investing in Hawaii as of late, and Bullard tells us that Ohana also previously invested in biodiesel company US BioDiesel Group.

Sopogy has strong roots in the state. Most of its investors are local, and in May Sopogy said the state legislature had approved up to $35 million in special purpose revenue bonds for Sopogy to build and operate a solar plant locally. As of October Sopogy CEO Darren Kimura told us the company is working on getting a 1-megawatt solar system up and running. Kimura also said that Hawaii’s “highest electricity rates in the U.S.” give its technologies “a competitive marketplace to develop and mature.”

The Honolulu-based five-year-old company Sopogy makes small scale solar thermal systems, which are condensed versions of the set-ups that use mirrors and lenses to heat liquid and turn that into power. Ausra, BrightSource, Solel and eSolar are just a few of the startups that have emerged to building large-scale systems on a lot of land and plan that power to utilities.

Sopogy, on the other hand, says its technology can be used where space is limited, even on rooftops, and delivers on a scale in the single megawatts. Each individual collector can produce 500 watts, and the collectors can be strung together for more wattage.

Kimura told VentureBeat last week that Sopogy has gotten enough interest that the company is eying an IPO in the not-too-distant future.

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