BT Imaging Raises $3.8 Million from Investors Including Applied Ventures

BT Imaging BT Imaging, a Surry Hills, Australia-based company that provides a suite of luminescence-based inspection and quality control systems for the photovoltaic manufacturing industry, announced today the completion of its Series A2 round of financing for a total of total of US $3.8 million (A$4.5 million). This round of financing includes existing investors Allen & Buckeridge and Uniseed, and new investor Applied Ventures (the venture capital division of Applied Materials). The company said it will use the funds to accelerate product development, launch global expansion plans, and strengthen and defend its portfolio.

According to BT Imaging, its inspection and quality control systems are used by Tier 1 wafer and cell manufacturers in Europe, Australia, Taiwan, China, and Japan.  An overview of some products in BT Imaging's portfolio is illustrated below.

BT Imaging Products

“Securing additional funding in this challenging economic environment demonstrates investor confidence in BT Imaging’s products and management,” stated Ian Maxwell, CEO of BT Imaging. “Due to the yield and efficiency gains that our products enable, we are experiencing strong demand from manufacturers in multiple segments of the photovoltaic manufacturing industry. This financing provides us with additional R&D and product development capability, putting the company at least a year ahead of its original roadmap. Not only can we enhance our current offerings, we can also provide the photovoltaic industry with new solutions to address critical yield challenges. As the world’s largest supplier of equipment to the PV solar industry, we are very pleased that Applied Materials recognizes the unique strength of BTi’s technologies and its potential for widespread adoption.”

“As the solar industry continues to expand, we see an increasing need to address quality control applications to achieve higher production yields and optimized efficiency,” stated J. Christopher Moran, Vice President and General Manager of Applied Ventures. “Our investment in BT Imaging aligns well with Applied Ventures’ strategy of fostering innovative technology to help drive down the cost per watt of solar power.”

SolarCity Raises $21.5 Million in Financing

SolarCity SolarCity, a full-service solar provider for homeowners, businesses and government organizations, announced earlier this month that it closed a $21.5 million round of private financing. The round was led by Mayfield Fund and supported by additional investments from existing SolarCity investors Draper Fisher Jurvetson, DBL Investors and Generation Investment Management LLP. In addition, Navin Chaddha, Mayfield Managing Director, will join SolarCity’s board of directors as an observer.

The company stated that it will use the new funding to accelerate its growth and expansion to new markets. The company currently has more than 13 installation centers, 700 employees and 8,000 customers in Arizona, California, Colorado, Oregon, and Texas.  An overview of SolarCity is provided in the following video:

“Mayfield has an excellent track record and we’re excited to add them as an investor,” said Lyndon Rive, SolarCity’s CEO. “We remain focused on our ultimate goal of providing clean power to millions of homes and businesses at a lower cost than polluting power sources. The new financing will accelerate our geographic expansion and give us the option to consider additional acquisitions.”

"SolarCity's world-class team and proven momentum in the design, delivery and financing of solar power systems make it an ideal addition to our Energytech portfolio," said Navin Chaddha, Mayfield Managing Director.

SunRun Obtains $55 Million in Series C Funding

SunRunSunRun, a San Francisco-based home solar company, announced in late June that it closed a $55 Series C round of funding.  This round was led by Sequoia Capital and joined by existing investors Accel Partners and Foundation Capital.

The company stated that it intends to use the funding to meet increasing demand for its home solar plans and for expansion into new U.S. markets. SunRun was founded in 2007 and currently has more than 4,500 home solar customers in Arizona, California, Colorado, Massachusetts, and New Jersey.  A brief overview of SunRun is provided in the following video featuring SunRun founders CEO Edward Fenster and President Lynn Jurich:

“Many homeowners are looking for a better alternative to their utility” said Edward Fenster, CEO of SunRun. “SunRun gives them a real choice – clean solar energy that doesn’t cost a lot, and gives them control over what they’ll be paying in the future. Plus, they don’t need to take care of any solar equipment because it’s all serviced for them. It’s an attractive proposition for a lot of homeowners.”

“For cleantech energy to become mainstream, it has to come with both financing and service,” said Warren Hogarth, a Partner at Sequoia Capital. “SunRun is the company creating and leading this opportunity for residential solar. Their unique model puts solar within reach of the average American home owner.”

One Block Off the Grid (1BOG) Receives $5 Million in Series A Financing from NEA

One Block Off the Grid (1BOG)

One Block Off the Grid (1BOG), a San Francisco-based solar group discount company, announced today that the company has closed a $5 million round of Series A financing from the venture capital firm New Enterprise Associates (NEA).

1BOG, which was incubated by Virgance, organizes homeowners into large solar buying groups to obtain discounted rates from installers.  Since its founding in 2008, 1BOG is responsible for the installation of approximately 600 residential solar electric systems. The financing announced today will support 1BOG's national expansion strategy to rapidly boost US adoption of residential solar.

"1BOG's team has applied a unique yet simple approach to solving the solar market's incumbent challenges, one that taps into the power of community and makes solar more accessible for American homeowners," said Ravi Viswanathan, General Partner at NEA. "We believe this company provides the solar industry's missing link; scaling 1BOG's model will create a tipping point for mass adoption of residential solar energy."

"The financial and environmental benefits of solar are well documented, but residential adoption is still less than one percent. By simply applying transparency to pricing and process, 1BOG has the potential to modernize, and turbo-charge the solar industry," said Dave Llorens, CEO 1BOG. "Our ability to secure Series A funding in a tepid economic climate is testament to our sound strategy to meet consumer demand for clean energy while strengthening overall public perception and support of solar."

1BOG was incubated by Virgance, a company which creates and builds mission-driven businesses.

MEMC Acquires SunEdison


MEMC Electronic Materials (MEMC), a global provider of wafers and other products to the semiconductor and solar industries, and SunEdison, a solar energy services company, announced that MEMC will acquire SunEdison.  The acquisition is expected to close by the end of 2009, subject to customary closing conditions and receipt of regulatory approvals.

The agreement calls for $200 million to be paid at closing to SunEdison security holders, which will be paid 70% in cash and 30% in MEMC stock. The agreement also includes an earn-out provision, should SunEdison meet certain performance targets in 2010, of up to an additional $89 million, consisting of cash and stock. In addition, the agreement calls for employee retention payments of $17 million in cash at closing, plus up to $34 million in stock which is subject to SunEdison meeting certain performance criteria and time vesting, the payment of certain transaction expenses and the assumption of net debt.

SunEdison manages the development, financing, operation, and monitoring of solar power plants for commercial customers, government agencies, and utilities.  The company is based in Beltsville, Maryland and employs approximately 300 people worldwide.

Investors in SunEdison included Greylock Partners, HSH Nordbank AG, Applied Ventures, LLC (the venture venture capital fund of Applied Materials), Black River Commodity Clean Energy Investment Fund (a fund managed by Black River Asset Management), MissionPoint Capital Partners, and ALLCO Renewable Energy LimitedAs previously reported by Green VC, SunEdison closed $161 million in equity and debt financing in May 2008.

"This acquisition will provide a third engine of growth for MEMC," said Ahmad Chatila, Chief Executive Officer of MEMC. "MEMC will now participate in the actual development of solar power plants and commercialization of clean energy, in addition to supplying the solar and semiconductor industries with our traditional silicon wafer products."

"By making solar power more affordable and easy to obtain, we expect to tap into a large pent-up demand," added Mr. Chatila. "We believe this strategy will drive revenue growth for our wafer business while producing a recurring revenue stream from solar-generated electricity. This will also allow us to directly benefit from the technological and cost advances that we are helping to create in the solar industry."

Mr. Chatila concluded, "In short, we believe MEMC and SunEdison make a powerful combination, and we are excited about having their talented employees around the world join the MEMC team."

"SunEdison has successfully built about 300 solar power plants representing approximately 80 MW of generating capacity on the rooftops and grounds of customers in the United States, Canada and Europe," said Carlos Domenech, Chief Operating Officer of SunEdison. "Our business is highly scalable and will be able to grow substantially, capitalizing on our more than 1.5 GW of pipeline, backlog and leads with a financially strong, technically sophisticated partner like MEMC, which also has a competitive cost structure in upstream materials. This combination will greatly accelerate our goal of making solar energy cost competitive with grid prices."

SunEdison will continue to operate with the SunEdison name, as a subsidiary of MEMC. Carlos Domenech will continue to lead SunEdison. After the acquisition is complete, he is expected to be named as Executive Vice President of MEMC and President of SunEdison, reporting to Ahmad Chatila.

For more information:

Disclosure: The author of this post owns shares of Applied Materials and MEMC.

Morgan Solar Receives $4.7 Million in Funding

Morgan Solar

Morgan Solar Inc. a Toronto-based solar energy start-up, announced earlier this month that it received $4.7 Million in funding from Iberdrola Group SA, Nypro Inc, and Turnstone Capital Management LLC.

Morgan Solar has developed the Sun Simba HCPV (pictured below), a low-cost High Concentrated Photovoltaic (HCPV) system designed for utility scale and large distributed generation applications.  The company has spent the past two years designing, testing, and refining its technology and believes it can have a major impact in the solar energy industry. The company is currently working on a pilot manufacturing facility to build the Sun Simba HCPV with a goal of commercial release in late 2010.

Morgan Solar Sun Simba HCPV

A syndicate led by Turnstone Capital Management LLC and including Inversiones Financieras Perseo SL (the venture initiative of Iberdrola Group) and New Ventures Group LLC (the venture investment subsidiary of Nypro Inc.) will provide Morgan Solar with capital to move from research and development to manufacturing. The $4.7 Million announced represents the completed first tranche of the company's series A investment round; an additional investment tranche is expected to close soon.

Iberdrola Group, one of the world's largest electrical utilities, invested $2.5 million. Pedro Velasco, Director of Non-Energy Businesses at Iberdrola Group said, “Iberdrola’s venture initiative, Inversiones Financieras Perseo SL, is specifically dedicated to investing in early stage, paradigm changing renewable energy technologies that appear to have a very high success potential. We have reviewed hundreds of investment opportunities over the last few years and only invested in Morgan Solar and four others. Their CPV technology is revolutionary, highly efficient and simple to manufacture at very low costs. We see a winner in the making and we took a position as soon as we saw it.”

Nypro Inc, invested $1 million and will be a key partner for Morgan Solar by providing the capacity to quickly scale up manufacturing of the Sun Simba HCPV. Michael Fallon, VP/GM of New Ventures Group at Nypro Inc said, “Nypro is constantly looking for innovations that have the potential to dramatically change an industry, while presenting synergies with our core strengths in injection molding and contract manufacturing around the world. We wanted to enter the solar energy market and we were looking for a next generation technology when we found Morgan Solar.”

Turnstone Capital Management LLC led the formation of the investment syndicate. Marc La Magna, Managing Director at Turnstone Capital commented, “We’re very pleased to have found and invested in Morgan Solar, and believe the company’s technology is a fundamental leap forward in exploiting solar energy effectively. Our views of Morgan Solar’s business model and approach to manufacturing highly efficient solar solutions at competitive cost were quickly validated by our co-investors Iberdrola and Nypro. We look forward to supporting Morgan Solar’s corporate development as it strives to make a significant impact on the PV market in the years to come.”

For more information

Astia and SDForum to Present “Innovation Opportunities Using Solar Technologies” on September 1 (Discount Available)


On September 1, Astia and SDForum will present the latest program in the 2009 Clean Tech Breakfast Series, entitled Innovation Opportunities Using Solar Technologies. This program will feature the following panelists, who will share their insights on a number of technology innovations relating to the solar industry and the opportunities arising from these innovations:

  • Eugenia Corrales – CEO and Co-Founder, SunModular
  • Steve Horne - Chief Technical Officer, SolFocus
  • Robert Horstmeyer - Managing Director, GrowthPoint Technology Partners
  • Bob McDonald – CEO and Founder, Skyline Solar
  • Bob Anderson – Partner, Nixon Peabody (moderator)

This program will be held from 8:00 am - 10:00 am at Nixon Peabody, LLP, One Embarcadero Center 18th Floor, San Francisco, CA 94111.  Thanks to our friends at SDForum, readers of Green VC can receive a $5 discount from the non-member registration price for this event.  To receive the discount, please use code "GREEN05" when registering online.  For more information:

Intersolar North America 2009 to Take Place from July 14-16 in San Francisco

Intersolar North America 2008

Intersolar North America will take place from July 14-16 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, California.  This event, held in conjunction with SEMICON West, is a trade show and conference focusing on photovoltaics, solar thermal technology, and solar architecture.

Intersolar North America will include informative conference sessions, an Innovation Exchange, a Job and Career Forum, and exhibit hall with hundreds of exhibitors.  This event is expected to draw over 15,000 attendees, including technology developers, investors, and government officials.  Other organizations will also be presenting other programs in conjunction with Intersolar North America.

For some background, the following video provides information on the Intersolar Europe 2008 conference which took place in Germany and featured more than 1,000 exhibitors and 52,000 visitors from 140 countries.

For more information:

Environmental Business Cluster to Present “The Road to $30M and Beyond: A Cleantech Story” on June 16 (Discount Available)

Environmental Business Cluster (EBC)

On June 16, the Environmental Business Cluster (EBC) will present a program entitled "The Road to $30M and Beyond: A Cleantech Story."  This program will focus on the solar company GreenVolts and will cover the following:

GreennVolts, a leader in concentrating photovoltaic (CPV) technology, has raised $45 MM in financing including $30 million in Series B funding from Oak Investment Partners in September 2008. Meet the key players including GreenVolts' Founder & Executive Chairman, the CEC who identified GreenVolts as a prime candidate for commercialization and the representative from the CPUC who approved the deal with PG&E. Learn about the company's evolution, how the investment climate has changed since the downturn of the economy and how companies like GreenVolts are turning towards partnerships and alternative sources of funding for future technology development. In addition learn and how the CEC and CPUC are evaluating new concepts and power projects across California.

Panelists for this event include:

This event will take place from 3:00 pm - 6:30 pm at Silicon Valley Capital Club, 50 W. San Fernando, Suite 1700, San Jose, CA 95113.  Discounted tickets are available for Green VC readers — please select the "Partner" option from the event registration page.

“Next Generation Solar Solutions” is Topic of FountainBlue Clean Energy Entrepreneurs’ Forum on June 1


"Next Generation Solar Solutions" is the topic of the next FountainBlue Clean Energy Entrepreneurs' Forum.  This program will take place on June 1 and feature the following panelists:

This event will take place from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. at SRI, 333 Ravenswood Ave, Menlo Park, CA. Additional program information, including registration pricing, is available via this link.