JinkoSolar, a Chinese silicon wafer manufacturer, has closed a $35 million Series B round of funding (hat tip PEHub). The company, which is based in Shangrao City in China’s Jiangxi Province, says it’s developed a process for slicing wafers very thinly, boosting the number of wafers produced while lowering costs. JinkoSolar sells the mono-crystalline and multicrystalline wafers it produces to solar cell and module makers.
Chinese cleantech investments accounted for just 4 percent of the total global venture capital investments in the third quarter of 2008, pulling in $111 million, according to recent data from the Cleantech Group. Solar companies in China claimed more than half of that funding. Production of photovoltaics in China has exploded in recent years, rising to 1,088 megawatts in 2007 from just 438 megawatts the year before and surpassing Japan and the U.S. to become the world’s largest solar producer, according to a report from ResearchinChina.
However, the report points out that while China’s solar cell and module production more than doubled in a year, its domestic polysilicon production has not kept up. The report estimates that the country can only produce about 80 megawatts worth of polysilicon, meaning the silicon needed for the other 1,000 megawatts must be imported. This is a considerable burden to China’s green economy since silicon prices in China have skyrocketed as of late, jumping to $400 a kilogram at the end of 2007 from $200 a year before. This is part of why companies like JinkoSolar are raising money to fund the expansion of production.
This round of funding was led by China Israel Venture Capital, a partnership between Shenzhen Capital Group and Israeli Platinum Neurone Ventures. The partnership was formed back in 2005 with $80 million intended for Chinese later-stage and pre-IPO high-tech companies that could benefit from both capital investments and access to Israeli advanced technologies. Pitango, another Israeli venture firm, also participated in JinkoSolar’s funding round.