Solyndra Amasses $600M for Totally Tubular Thin-Film Solar

Secretive thin-film solar startup Solyndra unveiled for the first time today its solar module design for commercial rooftops and funding totaling more than $600 million. The company says its design can cut the cost of installing solar rooftops in half and reduce installation time by a third.

The design wraps the photovoltaic copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) compound around a series of tubes until they resemble a row of black, fluorescent lights. Each module is curved to catch the maximum amount of light from any direction, so the panels don’t need to be carefully angled and laboriously secured like traditional PV panels. Check out the manufacturing and installation video after the jump to see how it all works.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j1GODzk0bgg&hl=en&fs=1]

Given the promise of such substantial cost cuts, the technology already has a line of customers — even though the three-year-old company has been in stealth this whole time. Solyndra says it has $1.2 billion in multiyear customer contracts on which it is just starting to deliver. The next step is to ramp up manufacturing. The plan, Solyndra tells us, is to expand total production capacity up to 420 megawatts annually. The company currently operates a 110-megawatt-per-year fabrication facility at its headquarters.

Solyndra filled its coffers with big investments from a number well-known info tech-cum-cleantech VCs including Redpoint Ventures, RockPort Capital, Argonaut, CMEA Ventures and U.S. Venture Partners. The startup also has several especially well-heeled backerss like the Walton family fund Madrone Capital, Abu Dubai’s MASDAR and Richard Branson’s Virgin Green Fund.

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