Next-gen solar makers still finding funding

Despite the fact that solar panels are quickly becoming a commodity — cheap and uniform — it looks like investors are still willing to put a small amount of funding into the next-generation of solar equipment.

Today in Cleantech

We got further indication of just how much the solar power industry has evolved, as 1366 Technologies finalized a $150 million loan guarantee for its Direct Wafer (DW) project. The project is expected to reduce manufacturing costs by 50 percent. No longer is the talk about more efficient panels. Rather, solar panels are becoming commodities and the race is on to lower production costs to compete with the Chinese. There was also news that PE firm Hudson Clean Energy Partners has raised a yuan denominated fund for China, a clear indicator that investors are betting on the Chinese market. Add to that today’s call from Oregon Sentor Ron Wyden to restrict the import of Chinese solar panels among accusations that the Chinese government is violating WTO rules by offering nearly free capital and land to its solar industry, and you start to get a picture of where the cleantech market is headed and how everything revolves around China right now.

Silicon wafer startup wins latest DOE solar loan guarantee

The Department of Energy has awarded so many loan guarantees to solar companies this week, it’s getting difficult to keep track. The latest, announced Friday, is a $150 million loan guarantee to 1366 Technologies, a startup that innovates around silicon wafer production.

GE, VantagePoint Back Solar Tech Startup 1366

GE and venture capital firm VantagePoint have joined in a round of funding of $28.4 million for solar manufacturing technology company 1366 Technologies. This is an $8.4 million extension of the $20 million round announced in October.

SunShot: New DOE Program Seeks Solar At $1/watt

Energy Secretary Steve Chu on Friday said his agency has offered $27.3 million to nine companies through a new initiative — called SunShot — that he said will help cut down solar electricity pricing dramatically, down to $1 per watt, by the end of the decade.

The ARPA-E Graduates: 6 Next-Gen Energy Startups

The DOE’s program to fund high-risk, early-stage, greentech projects is working, the DOE says this week. The indicator, says the DOE, is that private investors have invested a combined $100 million into at least 6 ARPA-E awardees. Here are the six ARPA-E graduates: