9 March 2011

Alta raises $72m to boost economics of high-efficiency PVs

Development-stage company Alta Devices Inc of Santa Clara, CA, USA says that it has raised a total of $72m to date in a round of funding that will be used to continue commercializing technology that aims to improve the production economics of high-efficiency solar photovoltaics (PVs). Founded in 2007, the firm is also focused on making breakthroughs in both manufacturing and form factor.

Investors include returning firms August Capital, Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers, Crosslink Capital, DAG Ventures, New Enterprise Associates (NEA), Presidio Ventures (a Sumitomo Corporation company), Technology Partners, and Dow Chemical. New investors are Alberta Investment Management Corporation (AIMCo) on behalf of certain of its clients, Good Energies, Energy Technology Ventures (a joint venture involving GE, ConocoPhilips and NRG Energy), and Constellation Energy.

AIMCo’s Jagdeep Singh Bachher has joined Alta’s board. Continuing board members include Alta’s CEO Christopher Norris, founders Harry Atwater (professor of Applied Physics and Materials Science at Caltech) and Eli Yablonovitch (professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences at University of California, Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory), Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers partner Bill Joy, August Capital's Andy Rappaport, and Crosslink Capital's Alain Harrus.

“There are a number of advanced materials that could demonstrate higher solar conversion efficiency than silicon,” says CEO Christopher Norris. “To date, the challenge of these materials is that they have been expensive to produce and difficult to implement. Therefore, they are not currently an economic solution for addressing the world’s energy needs,” he adds. “We are working to solve this problem by leveraging new approaches in several disciplines.”

Norris claims that the firm has been making good progress in the lab. “We have a team of technologists working on issues ranging from efficient use of raw materials, better manufacturing processes, and new ways to optimize the conversion efficiency of these materials for energy applications.”

One of the technologies on which Alta is seeing good results is epitaxial lift off, according to Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers partner Bill Joy. “This is a technique that will enable efficient use of very thin layers of gallium arsenide for solar PV applications,” he adds.

See related items:

DOE provides $12m for four early-stage PV firms

Tags: Alta Devices GaAs PV

Visit: www.altadevices.com

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