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

Konarka

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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Solyndra Emerges from Stealth Mode, Announces $1.2 Billion in Contracts

Solyndra

Solyndra, a company based in Fremont, California that designs and manufactures photovoltaic (PV) systems for the commercial rooftop market, emerged from stealth mode earlier this week and announced that it has $1.2 billion of multi-year contracts with customers in Europe and the United States.  Solyndra claims that its CIGS-based thin film PV systems provide significantly lower installation costs and significantly higher annual solar electricity output per rooftop as compared to conventional solar panel installations for large, low-slope commercial rooftops.

"By eliminating the need for roof-penetrating mounts and wind ballasts, PV arrays with Solyndra panels can be installed with one-third the labor, in one-third of the time, at one-half the cost," said Manfred Bachler, Chief Technical Officer at Phoenix Solar AG, one of the largest solar power integrators in Europe and a Solyndra customer. "For commercial rooftops, PV module installation time can now be measured in days, not weeks. For flat commercial rooftops this is game-changing technology."

Solyndra founder and CEO Chris Gronet said "Solyndra’s system uniquely optimizes PV performance on commercial rooftops by converting more of the sunlight that strikes the total rooftop area into electricity while also providing for a lower installation cost and lower cost of electricity."

The following video provides an illustration of the manufacturing and installation of Solyndra’s product.

According to various media reports, Solyndra CEO Chris Gronet has stated that the company has raised $600 million in equity financing. Solyndra’s investors include Argonaut Private Equity, Artis Capital Management, CMEA Ventures, Madrone Capital Partners, Masdar Clean Tech Fund, Redpoint Ventures, RockPort Capital Partners, U.S. Venture Partners, and the Virgin Green Fund

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Sencera Completes $15.6 Million Second Round Staged Equity Investment

Sencera, a Charlotte, North Carolina developer of photovoltaic (PV) modules and thin film systems, recently announced completion of a three-stage $15.6 million equity investment. Under the terms of the transaction Sencera has received $5.2 million in equity. The remaining $10.4 million will be provided in two stages of $5.2 million each based upon the company completing specific development milestones.

Quercus Trust and Michael Draper of Equinox Securities led the investment. "We are pleased to expand Sencera’s long-term strategic relationships with experienced clean tech investors," stated CEO Dr. Rusty Jewett.  Quercus and Draper also led the company’s initial $3.6 million equity investment that was announced in April.

Sencera will use the funds to support the development of its initial 35 MW photovoltaic (PV) module factory in Charlotte. Sencera will also accelerate the development of its second generation high-efficiency amorphous / microcrystalline silicon solar module. "This investment will help us outfit the first full manufacturing line, and will accelerate process development on our thin-film silicon based photovoltaic modules. We anticipate reduced manufacturing costs over traditional modules, with Sencera’s module production costs expected to be below $1 per peak watt," stated Dr. Jewett.

Nanosolar Receives $300 Million in Equity Financing

NanosolarNanosolar, a thin-film solar company, announced on August 27th that it received $300 million in equity financing in March 2008.  Investors in this round included The AES Corporation, The Carlyle Group, EDF (which made a $50 million investment in Nanosolar via EDF Energies Nouvelles Réparties), and Energy Capital Partners.

Funding in this round was also provided by returning Nanosolar investors GLG Partners, Beck Energy, and Grazia Equity (founding investor of Conergy).  Other participating investors included Lone Pine Capital, the Skoll Foundation, and the private fund of Pierre Omidyar (founder of eBay). 

Nanosolar intends to use the funds to accelerate production expansion for its 430MW San Jose factory and 620MW Berlin factory.  The following video provides some information on Nanosolar’s technology, which includes the ability to print (using nanoparticle ink) the semiconductor of a solar cell onto metal foil.

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