Friday, June 20, 2008

Concentrating Solar SolFocus Looking for Funds


SolFocus, which makes systems that concentrate sunlight onto solar cells, has been slowly adding to its war chest over the last year. And according to a report out today from VentureWire, the Mountain View, Calif.-based company isn’t done fundraising just yet, and is looking to add between $60 million and $80 million in a Series C round. That would be in addition to the $95 million that the firm has already raised.

Concentrating solar photovoltaic systems are a weird bird. They fall somewhere between the massive solar thermal plants being built in the desert, and the standard photovoltaic panels that are becoming common on rooftops around the world. Unlike standard solar panel systems, “concentrating PV” setups use arrays with lenses and curved mirrors to focus the sunlight onto cells, which can produce more power with less material — SolFocus notes a 1 square centimeter cell can capture more than 500 square centimeters of sunlight. The setup reduces the amount of largely silicon-based panels used, and can significantly cut down on the cost of the system.

SolFocus is a little over two years old and is trying to grow fast in an attempt to commercialize its technology. The company is already selling select products to customers for installations as test sites, like a 500-kilowatt installation for the Institute of Concentration Photovoltaic Systems program in Castilla-La Mancha, Spain. Last July it bought Madrid-based solar tracking company InSpira to help scale the business by bringing down the cost of the trackers it uses.

The VentureWire report says SolFocus is now looking to raise funds for “growth and manufacturing.” Previously the company was funded by New Enterprise Associates, Moser Baer India, David Gelbaum, Metasystem Group, NGEN Partners and Yellowstone Capital.

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