Nanosolar: Hype Down, Hiring Up

nanosolargermanplantThin-film solar startup Nanosolar isn’t exactly known for being shy. The San Jose, Calif.-based company has attracted plenty of attention –- as well as hundreds of millions of dollars in funding -– for claims that its technology can produce highly efficient copper-indium-gallium-diselenide panels for less than $1 per watt. A post from outspoken CEO Martin Roscheisen back in December, for example, essentially bashed competitor Solyndra, claiming its tube-style design provides no advantage over flat panels.

But Nanosolar has been keeping uncharacteristically mum over the last few months — no press releases, and far fewer of those blog posts. Roscheisen told us recently that the company is purposely keeping quiet and plans to start talking again in September.

It looks like Nanosolar is hard at work, especially as the silence has been combined with a series of job and internship openings recently posted on sites such as SimplyHired and VentureLoop, as well as the company’s own.

Nanosolar announced in late 2007 that it had begun production at its San Jose solar-cell factory and started shipping its first commercial films to customer Beck Energy; it also said it had begun construction on a larger panel-assembly facility in Luckenwalde, Germany. It appears Nanosolar is staffing up these facilities, as it lists job openings for engineers, machine operators and shift managers in Germany and positions in the U.S., as well as one position in Switzerland for a “Field Engineer — Responsible for managing solar system technical support and product training for Nanosolar customers in Europe and the U.S.”

If these listings are any indication, Nanosolar is busy ramping up production. While Nanosolar announced last year that it had created a new tool that could produce up to 1 gigawatt of solar cells annually, with efficiencies of up to 14.5 percent, the company didn’t disclose its actual production numbers. That led to widespread speculation about how much it actually had — or had not — been shipping. The company previously said its California factory would have the capacity to produce up to 430 megawatts of solar cells –- and was expected reach this capacity by 2008 -– while the German facility was expected to be able to assemble “multi-100” megawatts of solar panels.

We’ll be watching for more news, and production figures, in September.

Image of Nanosolar’s German plant courtesy of Nanosolar.