Mo' Money for Solar: SolFocus Raises $30M


solfocusdiagramSolFocus is one of those startups (you’ve got ’em in every sector) that likes to detail every little bit of funding it raises with press releases. So here’s the latest tally from the company that builds solar power plants that concentrate the sun’s rays onto photovoltaic panels: It’s closed its Series C round at $77.6 million, having added on about $30 million since it first announced the round back in January. That brings the company’s total funds raised to over $170 million.

SolFocus’ latest funds put it in the select group of solar firms — along with companies like Solyndra, SoloPower and Nanosolar — that are amassing hundreds of millions of dollars from venture capitalists. And it doesn’t seem like venture capitalists are getting sick of stuffing money into solar just yet. According to some of the data for the second-quarter cleantech venture capital numbers, solar was still the most capitalized sector, with more than $333.4 million (other research firms put solar investments closer to $114 million).

SolFocus is different from a lot of those other well-funded solar firms, however, in that it’s using a kind of hybrid solar technology called concentrating photovoltaics (CPV), which uses mirrors and lenses to concentrate sunlight onto tiny, highly efficient solar cells. As Greenwire explained recently, CPV merges two forms of more traditional solar technologies: concentrating mirrors and photovoltaics. For CPV, smaller cells mean the solar project can cut down on the expensive silicon-based solar panels, and the CPV systems usually deliver considerably more power than a solar panel on a rooftop (here’s over a dozen companies working on CPV).

SolFocus is moving faster than many of its competitors. It’s raising this latest cash to “transition from pilot production to full scale commercialization” and plans to expand its manufacturing from 0.5 MW shipped in 2008 to more than 10 MW shipped this year and to more than 50 MW in 2011. This latest round was led by Apex Venture Partners and included New Enterprise Associates, NGEN and Yellowstone Ventures and Demeter Partners.



Is there really anyone financing solar? I can see tax credits. I can not see any financing?


Robert J. Ryburn

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