Solar startup Amonix shutters Vegas factory

A solar startup with a new type of technology, and funding from Kleiner Perkins and the Department of Energy, has closed its factory in Las Vegas after 14 months, according to the Las Vegas Review Journal. The company, which makes concentrating solar photovoltaic tech (CPV) that uses mirrors to concentrate sunlight onto solar cells, had already cut workers in California, and hundreds of workers at the Las Vegas factory.
The Review Journal reports that the factory has been idle since May, and on Wednesday Amonix began selling off equipment. Amonix told us back in January, after news of the layoffs at the factory first came out, that Flextronics, its manufacturing service provider, had cut staffing at the factory by two-thirds so it could modify the production equipment for making a new product later this year. We’ll update this if we hear more from Amonix.
Amonix has had a rough year. The company lost its CEO late last year in a tragic accident.


Amonix was able to win a high-profile, large solar project in Colorado that was backed by a $90 million Department of Energy loan guarantee and is owned by a company called Cogentrix (owned by Goldman Sachs). That 30 MW project — one of the largest of its kind using CPV tech — started producing power in Colorado as of May, Dow Jones reported in May.

The company also managed to raise $129.4 million in the spring of 2010 from investors Kleiner Perkins, Westly Group and the Angeleno Group, as well $25 million from Goldman Sachs and MissionPoint. Dow Jones reported that Amonix also had a $9.5 million federal tax credit and a $15.6 million Department of Energy grant. That’s in addition to the DOE loan guarantee for the Cogentrix project.

Amonix’s technology uses lenses to concentrate sunlight 500 times onto triple-junction solar cells. CPV evangelists says that the technology promises to significantly reduce the amount of solar cells needed for a solar project, which make up a big part of the cost of a solar energy system. The systems can also be smaller and more modular so can be built in more diverse places than the massive desert solar thermal plants. That’s the idea anyway — the technology is still nascent, and clearly faces hurdles.