Friday, June 6, 2008

FTL Raising $50M for Solar-Embedded Structures

FTL Raising $50M for Solar-Embedded Structures

FTL Solar, which is building products embedded with thin-film solar cells, said today that it’s closed $1 million of what it hopes will be a $50 million first round of funding (hat tip, peHub). The funding was led by Terra Firma Capital Group and included investments from the Josh Mailman Foundation and individual investors.

The startup, spun out of New York-based FTL Design Engineering Studio in 1998, says it plans to close the $50 million Series A round by the end of the year. The company explains its technology as making lightweight, flexible structures, like awnings and canopies, that are embedded with thin-film solar cells. The idea lends itself to a variety of applications and the startup claims the Department of Defense, the Smithsonian Institute, FEMA and New York Fashion Week among its customers.

The company’s portable solar pavilions, called PowerMods, could be used on a small residential-scale, like as a car port charging a plug-in hybrid; the technology can also be strung together to make “large-scale megawatt-generating solar farms,” Tony Saxton, CEO of FTL, said in the press release. FTL seems to still be scaling up as they say the PowerMods “will soon be” mass-produced. We’ll be talking with Saxton tomorrow morning and bring you more details on this startup.

FTL’s claimed mobility and adaptability mean their product is of great interest for military and disaster relief applications. FTL’s marketing and distribution are handled by the Allbaugh Group, headed by Joe Allbaugh, the former Director of pre-Katrina FEMA, who has been very good at getting his clients hefty government contracts. Maybe solar could cash in on that cronyism that has helped other industries.

Image courtesy of FTL Solar.

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