Herzliya, Israel-based startup SolarEdge gave its first press interview earlier this month and closed on a $23 million Series B round of financing. So why has the company — which has raised a total of $34.8 million in venture capital from Vertex Venture Capital and Genesis Partners of Israel and the U.S. firms Walden International and Opus Capital — been hiding behind a stealthy cloak these last two years?
SolarEdge says its technology can boost solar panel efficiency by 15-20 percent using semiconductors and software. The company’s approach, similar to that of National Semiconductor and Tigo Energy, involves monitoring individual solar panels with embedded integrated circuits. The idea is to sidestep the problem of partial shading, which can keep typical inverters from harvesting enough voltage to feed usable electricity (alternating current) into a connected power grid.
The Wall Street Journal gets into the nitty-gritty of inverters here. But the main point, as National CEO Brian Halla explained earlier this month at Actel’s EcoChip forum (the company’s SolarMagic device also tackles partial shading), is that shade, dirt or shadow on just a few cells of a solar panel can disproportionately reduce energy output. According to California’s public utility and energy commissions, the solar cell with the least light typically determines the operating current for all cells wired in that series — more so for crystalline modules, and less for thin film. Using semiconductors and software, SolarEdge would allow unshaded cells to harvest energy at full throttle despite sullied neighbors.