What Solar VCs Want

A few years ago, solar-loving venture capitalists were excited to talk about solar cell and panel makers with novel manufacturing processes that could make them industry giants. Today, they want to talk about software, services and materials that don’t require hefty capital investments.

Morgan Solar Raising Funds for Concentrating Solar PV

Morgan Solar, a concentrating photovoltaic (CPV) startup, is raising a B round of $20-25 million and hopes to complete the fundraising by as early as April, Nicolas Morgan, vice president of business development at the company, told us.

PHOTOS: The Future of Solar at SPI

This week in Los Angeles the solar industry filled a convention center with the latest in next-generation solar panels, concentrators, and various gear. Called SPI, the show offers the first look at some of the really bleeding edge solar tech.

Soliant Energy Focuses With $21M

Soliant Energy, maker of rooftop concentrating photovoltaic systems, has raised almost $21 million in new venture capital, including $2.5 million from GE Energy Financial Services, the company announced today at the Solar Power International conference in San Diego. The financing will be used to help the Monrovia, Calif.-based startup get its as yet-unnamed modular solar product to market by the end of 2009.
Founded in 2005 by NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory scientists and engineers as Practical Instruments, the company renamed itself Soliant last year. Soliant says its highly efficient solar system, available in beta form in January 2009, will be able to provide building owners higher returns on their investment compared with other solar systems. Soliant scrapped its first rooftop solar concentrating product, the Heliotube, because it’s long-tube concentrator design just didn’t make sense economically, Jay Goldman, VP of Sales, told us on the show floor at Solar Power.

The key to the company’s new product is the system’s triple-junction solar cells, which can get nearly 40 percent efficiency, coupled with Fresnel technology that concentrates the sunlight 500 times. But Soliant has plenty of competition from other startups looking to cash in on concentrated sunlight. Read More about Soliant Energy Focuses With $21M

13 Startups Working on Solar-Concentrating PV

We’re all familiar with standard photovoltaic solar panels, and many of us are starting to become acquainted with solar thermal tech that uses the sun’s heat to generate power, but there’s also a third option. Over a dozen startups are working on ways to use mirrors and lenses to concentrate sunlight hundreds of times onto tiny, highly efficient solar cells. Called concentrating photovoltaic technology (CPV) the systems are meant to cut back on one of the most expensive parts of traditional PV: the silicon-based solar panel.

CPV startups say the latest tech can provide solar systems at a lower cost per watt by producing as much or more power from the same amount of silicon. Though many companies are just starting to bring products to market, and the systems seem to require a lot of moving parts, these 13 companies are working out the details:

SolFocus: The Mountain View, Calif.-based company is only a little over two years old, but has been amassing significant funds from well-known Valley firms to deploy its CPV systems. The startup already raised $95 million from New Enterprise Associates, Moser Baer India, David Gelbaum, Metasystem Group, NGEN Partners and Yellowstone Capital, and it’s reported to be looking to add between $60 million and $80 million in a Series C round.

The company also has a serious presence in Spain. Its sister company SolFocus Europe has offices in Madrid, Spain, and this week the company said it had completed the first 200 kW installation of a 3 MW concentrating solar PV plant owned by Spain’s Institute of Concentration Photovoltaic Systems (ISFOC).

Cyrium Technologies: Cyrium makes the multi-junction solar cells for concentrating PV systems — these cells have to be highly efficient and robust. Just this week the company says it has closed a Series B round of $15 million in funding led by David Gelbaum’s Quercus Trust, and including BDC Venture Capital, Chrysalix Energy Venture Capital, and Pangaea Ventures.
Read More about 13 Startups Working on Solar-Concentrating PV

UMPCPortal presents a 2007 UMPC Buyers Guide

BuyersguideYou can tell Steve spent a fair amount of time on this: he’s put together a UMPC Buyers Guide for 2007 that’s filled with information, good questions to ask yourself and solid advice before your purchase. There are seven pages of insights shared that range from UMPC needs to hardware capabilities to price and budget considerations. Even if you already own a UMPC, this is a great read! Maybe some MSM folks will give it a view so they can "get" the UMPC concept. 😉

Why HD Radio and Satellite Radio Are Different

Wachovia analyst Jim Boyle came out with a research report that says that terrestrial HD radio and satellite radio will both have 39 million listeners by 2012. Harry Helms thinks “this analysis is badly flawed in multiple ways,” because Boyle is taking the digital cable TV/satellite TV model and applying it to radio.

Boyle seems to have forgotten that digital cable and DBS were delivering essentially the same programming while IBOC/HD and satellite radio offer almost completely different content. Digital cable vs. DBS was a battle of competing delivery mechanisms, while IBOC/HD vs. Satellite is a battle of competing content and programming.

Mr. Helms, I tip my hat to you! Spot on!