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28 December 2009


CPV system maker Amonix acquires Sunworks

On 21 December, concentrating photovoltaic (CPV) system maker Amonix Inc of Seal Beach, CA, USA announced that, on 9 November, it completed its acquisition of Sunworks Solar LLC of San Francisco, CA, which was founded in 2008 to make US-made utility-scale amorphous-silicon thin-film photovoltaic panels.

Sunworks’ co-founder Brian Robertson becomes CEO of Amonix; co-founder Guy Blanchard joins as senior VP of sales & corporate development; and managing director Matthew Meares (who previously worked on sales and project development at Sunworks) joins as director of project finance.

In July, Sunworks said that it was aiming to construct a 75MW solar panel manufacturing plant in New York, but Robertson says that Amonix does not plan to become an amorphous-silicon thin-film photovoltaic panel manufacturer.

Founded in 1989 and with 15 years’ experience of field deployments in real-world conditions, Amonix is on its seventh-generation CPV system, after in March launching the Amonix 7700, which is designed for utility-scale deployment (applicable to both distributed generation and centralized solar farms). The firm has switched from using 27.6%-efficient silicon cells (which it had made itself) in its previous-generation systems to using Spectrolab’s 37%-efficient gallium arsenide-based multi-junction cells, producing what was claimed to be the first CPV system with efficiency of 25% (AC, post-inverter).

“Amonix systems clearly work in utility-scale applications. With the addition to our management team of three of the most productive solar industry business executives in the country, we have what it takes to get large, complex projects completed,” says founder, chief technology officer & chairman Vahan Garboushian (whom Robertson replaces as CEO). “We are ready to leverage our expertise and years in the field to take our growth to the next level.”

Amonix says that Robertson, Blanchard, and Meares have been instrumental in securing financing for more than half of all photovoltaic projects deployed under power purchase agreements (PPA) in the USA.

Before co-founding Sunworks, Robertson co-founded and was president of North America’s largest solar energy services provider SunEdison (acquired by silicon wafer maker MEMC Electronic Materials in November for $200m in cash and stock). Robertson also has a degree in Computer Science from MIT and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

Blanchard jointly led development of Sunworks’ project pipeline. He has extensive asset and project finance experience, previously as managing director for Fortress Investment Group's Drawbridge family of funds, where he was a principal investor with a focus including renewable energy investments. Blanchard has a BS and an MBA from the University of California, Davis.

At Sunworks, Meares was responsible for utility-scale solar panel sales and project development. Previously at Germany-based HSH Nordbank, he was responsible for project finance, mezzanine, and equity transactions in the power sector, with an emphasis on renewable energy. Meares has a BS in Mechanical Engineering from North Carolina State University and an MBA from Duke University's Fuqua School of Business.

See related item:

Amonix replaces silicon with III-Vs for its latest CPV system

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