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16 July 2008


PV developer Wakonda raises $9.5m in Series A financing

Photovoltaic start-up Wakonda Technologies Inc of Medford, MA, USA has raised $9.5m in Series A financing from ATV (Advanced Technology Ventures), General Catalyst Partners, Polaris Venture Partners, Applied Ventures LLC (the venture capital arm of Applied Materials Inc) and the Massachusetts Green Energy Fund.

Photovoltaic cells based on III-V materials developed for satellite applications have solar energy conversion efficiencies exceeding 30% (well above those of commercially available silicon and thin-film cells), but higher materials costs (e.g. for the single-crystal germanium substrates used for III-V-based solar cells). Wakonda says that, in contrast, its patent-pending ‘virtual single crystal’ (VSC) technology and process uses a proprietary surface treatment that enables a low-cost, commercial, flexible metal foil substrate to simulate expensive single-crystal III-V wafer material. This allows high-efficiency III-V solar cell technology to be combined with proven, low-cost, roll-to-roll manufacturing processes, possibly yielding the production of high-performance solar cells with significant cost efficiencies for applications such as integration into into buildings, infrastructure and personal power products.

“We are actively working to reduce the cost of solar systems to make solar energy competitive with conventional electric power,” says founder and CEO Les Fritzemeier. Wakonda has been developing its technology in conjunction with the Rochester Institute of Technology (where company co-founder and chief technology officer Ryne Raffaelle leads the NanoPower Research Lab), Cornell University, and the NASA Glenn Research Center.

“We’re delighted to have the support of this top-tier group of investors to help us accomplish this goal,” says Fritzemeier. “Their experience and track records give us additional confidence that we will achieve our commercial market objectives.”

“Wakonda’s approach for producing low-cost, high-efficiency solar cells stood out as having breakthough potential,” adds ATV general partner Bill Wiberg, who co-led the round of financing.

See related items:

Rochester’s NanoPower Research Labs receive $3.2m in PV funding

Wakonda named Clean Energy Entrepreneur of the Year and awarded $900,000 DOE funding

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