Solyndra Scores $105M Deal With Italy's Sun System


Solyndra, the well-funded maker of tube-shaped solar panels based in Fremont, Calif., has just scored a deal with Milan, Italy-based solar integrator Sun System. Under an agreement that Solyndra says could be worth up to $105 million over several years, Sun System will use the 4-year-old startup’s cylindrical thin film systems for commercial rooftop installations in southern Italy.

Today’s agreement will help Solyndra continue to ramp up its presence in Europe, where the company set up headquarters in January as part of an effort to get more business in the region’s most active photovoltaic markets, including France, Germany, Greece, Italy and Spain.

Solyndra has a mountain of capital behind it. The company snagged the first loan guarantee — for $535 million — since the 1980s under a long-delayed Department of Energy program earlier this year. And it became one of the most capitalized startups this fall when it approached the $800 million mark for private equity financing.

The company has announced several major deals this year that will boost its European business outside of Germany (Solyndra’s previous focus in the region). This spring, Solyndra announced a $115 million deal to sell panels to EBITSCHenergietechnik, a solar integrator in Zapfendorf, Germany, as well as a $189 million agreement to sell an undisclosed number of panels to Amsterdam-based solar integrator SunConnex — both through 2013. Other customers include Germany-based integrators Phoenix Solar and GeckoLogic, and as of May of this year, Solyndra said its backlog of sales contracts totaled nearly $1.7 billion.

According to today’s release, Sun System installed a large project with Solyndra panels back in September at textile maker Tessitura Uboldi’s facility in Northern Italy. Sun System does projects across Italy, and this new agreement could open doors for Solyndra in the country, where as early as next year solar electricity costs could reach competitive prices with conventional power sources “thanks to its abundant sunshine and high electricity prices,” although bureaucracy often slows the permitting process, according to a report from the European Photovoltaics Industry Association (EPIA) cited by Greentech Media.

The market that Solyndra and Sun System plan to target — medium- to large-scale commercial rooftop installations — will be the strongest market segment in Italy in 2010, according to forecasts from the EPIA. As the two companies seek to ride that wave, it will be solar panels made in California (at Solyndra’s Milpitas and Fremont facilities) soaking up the Italian sun.

Chart courtesy of EPIA

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