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9 January 2009


SolFocus raises $47.5m to commercialize CPVs

Concentrator photovoltaic (CPV) system maker SolFocus Inc of Mountain View, CA, USA has raised $47.5m in the first close of its Series C financing round, led by Apex Venture Partners with follow-on investment by New Enterprise Associates (NEA), NGEN Partners and others (increasing the total raised since the firm was founded in 2005 from $95m to $143m). SolFocus expects to close a second tranche of funding later this month (boosting the Series C financing round to $60-70m).

The new funding will be used to accelerate expansion of its manufacturing operations and extend its early base of commercial CPV deployments, which it aims to grow from 0.5MW in 2008 to about 100MW by the end of 2010.

Also, Mark Crowley (president since August) has been appointed CEO to guide SolFocus in its transition from small-scale demonstration installations to large-scale commercialization. Former CEO & founder Gary D. Conley will continue as chairman of the board.

“We have developed and delivered 0.5MW of our high-efficiency, cost-effective CPV systems, and are now poised to roll out product in high volume,” says Crowley. “Our C Round funding will allow us to invest rapidly to support our aggressive growth plans.”

Crowley notes that this first close comes despite what is one of the most challenging funding environments in history. “Many good companies are going unfunded today; this close is strong validation from investors that our CPV systems are compelling today, and will help drive the growth of the solar industry,” he believes.

SolFocus’ CPV design uses a system of reflective optics (curved mirrors) to concentrate sunlight 500 times onto highly efficient gallium arsenide-based solar cells on germanium substrates that have high solar energy conversion efficiency (approaching 40%, more than twice that of traditional silicon solar cells). Like its smaller SF-1000S system, the firm’s second product (the SF-1100S, launched last November) uses about a thousandth of the active solar cell material compared to traditional silicon-based PV panels, but boosts panel conversion efficiency from 18% to more than 25%. In solar-rich regions of the world, such efficiency can accelerate the trajectory for solar energy to reach cost parity with fossil fuels, says SolFocus.

SolFocus integrates its CPV panels with its tracking system, which continuously aligns the solar array with direct sunlight throughout the day as the sun moves across the sky. The tracking capability results in energy generation matched to peak demand periods.

In November-December, SolFocus (whose European operations are headquartered in Madrid) announced two customer deployments of 1100S CPV systems in Europe: a $103m (€80m) utility-scale project in Southern Spain with EMPE Solar for more than 10MW (enough for 40,000 residents, and the world’s largest CPV installation); and a 1.6MW deal with Concept, a division of renewable energy development firm Samaras Group of Thessaloniki, Greece, to jointly develop the first commercial installation of CPV technology in Greece (with installation beginning this spring, for the delivery of power in the summer).

See related items:

SolFocus and Samaras to develop first commercial CPV project in Greece

SolFocus launches 25%-efficient CPV system for medium/utility-scale plants

SolFocus and EMPE sign $103m deal for 10MW utility-scale PV project

SolFocus first to complete ISFOC CPV installation

CPV Consortium launched to steer industry growth in concentrating photovoltaics

SolFocus first CPV systems maker to get CEC approval

Search: SolFocus CPV


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