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Solar startup Solexant raises more funds, deserts Oregon loan

Updated: So-called “third-generation” ultra-thin film solar company Solexant has amassed another $23.47 million in equity from investors, according to a filing, and at the same time has reportedly abandoned a $25 million loan from the state of Oregon. The proposed state loan, first announced a year ago, was reportedly the largest given in the 30-year history of the Oregon’s Department of Energy.

I haven’t been able to get ahold of Solexant execs, but will update this story when I hear more. The company raised another round of $12.5 million in funding, which included equity and options, about a year ago. At that time a company spokesperson told me that the total amount raised in that round was closer to $41.5 million.

Five-year-old Solexant, which was spun out of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, is based in San Jose, Calif., and fashions itself as a “third generation” solar photovoltaic maker. The company is working on producing “ultra-thin,” inorganic “nanocrystal solar cells,” in a roll-to-roll manufacturing process. The company uses the nanocrystal form of cadmium-telluride compound on metal foil and then sandwiches the cells in glass.

Solexant has been aiming for a cost that can get down to 50 cents per watt. In comparison thin film solar competitors MiaSole and First Solar say they can produce solar panels for 85 cents per watt ($0.75 for First Solar).

Solexant co-founder and CEO Damoder Reddy told us in October that investors have been “extremely shy” about investing in solar manufacturers, particularly since many of their solar investments haven’t paid off. However, at that time, Reddy said the company was still on a march to build his first full-scale factory.

Solexant reportedly finished building a 2MW pilot line in October 2009 that is creating nanocrystal cells. The Oregon loan was supposed to go toward a 100 MW commercial scale solar panel assembly line to be built near Portland in Oregon. But I’m not sure of the status, or planned location, of the 100 MW commercial line at this time.

According to local Oregon reports, Solexant let the Oregon loan expire, and told the media at the time that the technology was not ready to start to build a commercial-scale  factory.