Konarka Opens World’s Largest Roll-to-Roll Flexible Thin Film Solar Manufacturing Facility


Konarka Technologies, Inc., a Lowell, Massachusetts-based developer and manufacturer of solar plastic films, recently announced that it opened the largest roll-to-roll flexible thin film solar manufacturing facility in the world.  The facility is in a 250,000 square foot building in New Bedford, Massachusetts that was previously used by Polaroid Corporation. The following video provides a brief overview of the company:

"This facility has state-of-the-art printing capabilities that are ready for full operation, with the future potential to produce over a gigawatt of flexible plastic solar modules per year," commented Howard Berke, executive chairman and co-founder of Konarka. "Our technical leadership and innovation in flexible thin film solar, along with this facility’s capabilities of producing in excess of 10 million square meters of material per year, will allow us to produce Power Plastic for indoor, portable, outdoor and building integrated applications."

"Since 2001, Konarka has taken revolutionary lab discoveries from its founding scientists to pilot production for initial customers and now to full-scale manufacturing with the near future capacity of one gigawatt per year, which could contribute to the power and electricity needs of our nation and the avoidance of CO2 emissions," said Rick Hess, president and CEO at Konarka. "As one of the original recipients of the Solar American Initiative (SAI) awards in 2007, Konarka is furthering the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) vision to reach its goal of making solar electricity from photovoltaics cost-competitive with conventional forms of electricity."

"With our nationally recognized technology expertise and resources, Massachusetts is becoming a global center for alternative and renewable energy, and Konarka is helping to solidify our commitment to a clean energy future and ongoing economic development and job growth in the Commonwealth," said, Daniel O’Connell, Massachusetts Secretary of Housing and Economic Development.

Scott W. Lang, Mayor of New Bedford, added, "We are excited that Konarka is bringing new jobs to help further drive the economy and interest in the city of New Bedford, and we are proud that our city is home once again to an industry leading manufacturing plant."

Konarka has obtained more than $100 million from venture capital and private equity funds thusfar, including 3i Group, Chevron, Draper Fisher Jurvetson (DFJ), Good Energies, Massachusetts Green Energy Fund, Mackenzie Financial, Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, New Enterprise Associates (NEA), and Asenqua Ventures.  The company has also received $18 million in government agency research grants from the U.S. and Europe.

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GridPoint Receives $15 Million Investment from Quercus Trust, Expands Board of Advisors, Announces Test Results


GridPoint, a Arlington, Virginia-based company that offers a "smart grid platform" that leverages information technology to align the interests of electric utilities, consumers and the environment announced on March 27th that it received a $15 million strategic Investment from the Quercus Trust. 

In this announcement the company also stated that it added Robert Danziger, Paul Feldman, T.J. Glauthier, R. James Woolsey, and Daniel Yergin to its Board of Advisors.  Other members of GridPoint’s Board of Advisors are former U.S. Senator Bill Bradley, Esther Dyson, David J. Jhirad, and William A. Nitze.

GridPoint was founded in 2003 and has received a total of $102 million in equity capital to date.  Other investors in GridPoint include Altira Group, Goldman Sachs Group, New Enterprise Associates (NEA), Perella Weinberg Partners, Robeco, and Susquehanna International Group (SIG).

According to the company, some of the value offered by its GridPoint SmartGrid Platform is as follows:

The platform applies information technology to the electric grid to provide utilities with an intelligent network of distributed resources (e.g., advanced load control devices, batteries, solar systems) that reside at the point of consumption – the home or business. Additionally, the platform’s modular, scalable [ed. note: revised spelling] and upgradeable architecture enables utilities to create a practical path for integrating new clean technologies (e.g., plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and fuel cells).

During peak demand periods, the platform enables utilities to efficiently balance supply and demand by discharging stored power or reducing loads with minimal impact on customers (i.e., controlling temperature versus shutting down air conditioners). Utilities can also optimize existing baseload generation assets and relieve stress on transmission and distribution (T&D) lines.

The platform serves as a virtual peaking power plant, enabling utilities to avoid the regulatory, environmental and "time-to-build" hurdles associated with building centralized plants while fueling the mass adoption of renewable energy, reducing carbon emissions and conserving fuel, capital and land resources.

For consumers, GridPoint’s platform provides protection from power outages, increases energy efficiency through online energy management and integrates utility-controlled renewable energy systems, paving the way for the commercial success of residential and light commercial solar and wind energy sources.

An illustration of how GridPoint’s SmartGrid Platform works is provided below (click for full-size image):

GridPoint SmartGrid Gateway Overview

GridPoint also released a separate press release on March 27th in which it and Duke Energy announced positive results from what is believed to be the first commercial test of utility-controlled "smart charging" for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.

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Suniva Receives $50 Million in Series B Financing

Suniva Inc., an Atlanta-based company that manufactures and markets high-efficiency silicon photovoltaic (PV) cells, recently announced the completion of a $50 million Series B round of financing.The funds will be used for Suniva’s new Atlanta-area manufacturing facility that is scheduled to begin operating in the second half of 2008.

This funding round was co–led by New Enterprise Associates (an existing investor) and Advanced Equities, Inc.  Other participants in this round were Goldman Sachs (through its subsidiary Cogentrix Energy), HIG Ventures (an existing investor), and Quercus Investments.

According to an article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Suniva is projecting $10 million in revenue in 2008 and $100 million in 2009.

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SDForum and FountainBlue to Present “Clean Energy Entrepreneurs’ Forum” on January 25

On January 25, 2008, from 8:30 am – 2:00 pm, SDForum and FountainBlue will present the Clean Energy Entrepreneurs’ Forum on the topic of "Policy and Its Implications for the Clean Energy Entrepreneur."  Presenters at this event will include policymakers, business leaders, entrepreneurs, and investors.  Highlights of the program include:

Keynote addresses

  • California’s Investment in the Clean Revolution
    Bill Lockyer – Treasurer of California
  • Clean Energy Opportunities and Challenges: the Venture Perspective
    Scott Sandell – NEA 


  • A Corporate Perspective: "Doing Well While Doing Good"
    Janice Berman – PG&E
    Reed Content – AMD
    Annette Finsterbusch – Applied Ventures
    Christina Page – Yahoo!
    Craig Lobdell – KPMG (moderator)

The program will be held at the AMD Commons Auditorium, 991 Stewart Drive, Sunnyvale, CA.  The advance registration cost for the program is $50 for SDForum members and $80 for non-members.  The price will be $100 if you register on the day of the event. For more information: