GreenVolts Jolts Concentrating PhotoVoltaic (CPV) Business Plans

GVnlogo Bob Cart is out as Chairman and CEO.
Radical redesign may be underway departing from signature Power Unit and CarouSol.

GP Note: First, let me caution that my information for this post has been gleaned from confidential and anonymous sources. I’ve been investigating these claims for the past two weeks, and I am convinced I have the basic facts straight.

Two weeks ago Friday, Bob Cart was forced out as GreenVolts, Inc. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Chief Financial Officer Gary Beasley is now acting CEO as an executive search is conducted for a replacement. It appears this was a boardroom putsch orchestrated by venture capital investor, Oak Investment Partners.

I’ve had the feeling something was wrong at GreenVolts, Inc. due to the lack of progress at GV1 chronicled in my visits:

In Search of GreenVolts GV1 – Part 2
In Search of GreenVolts GV1

And later acknowledged by the company in “GreenVolts Delays its 2MW Solar Field” by Ucilia Wang at Greentech Media.

Around January 15, 2009, not long after GreenVolts was chosen for BusinessWeek’s “Most Successful U.S. Startups 2008” list, about one-third of the forty (40) person GreenVolts team was laid off including upper management and key staff. A quick look at the GreenVolts – Company Profile on LinkedIn (better when logged in) will confirm this.

Although the poor macro economic environment and credit crunch were logical explanations, the layoff was also driven by a product vision divergence. In an incredible twist for a start-up company, I understand two competing design teams were formed to develop the company’s next generation CPV technology. One team, lead by Bob Cart, evolved and improved the GreenVolts Power Unit and CarouSol. The second team investigated clean sheet and perhaps me too CPV approaches as an alternative path. I suspect this second team was formed at the insistence of Board Director Brian Hinman, a Venture Partner with Oak Investment Partners.

The outcome of this competition is now clear. I have heard a staff rotation may be underway as new employees are hired, and GreenVolts veterans ponder their respective futures.

What of GV1?

If the Power Unit and CarouSol trackers are indeed obsoleted, almost 1 MW (MegaWatt) of CarouSol trackers installed at GV1 may end up as scrap. GreenVolts is still included in the RPS Project Status Table – 2nd Quarter 2009 Update, so the PG&E Corporation (NYSE:PCG) deal would appear to remain in place.

From California Clean Tech Open 2009 Launch

Just a few weeks ago at the California Clean Tech Open 2009 Launch, I was chatting with the GreenVolts team about the implications of the NREL pact, “GreenVolts and NREL to Commercialize Advanced IMM Solar Cells”, HCPV system capacity ratings, and their take on the CPV Consortium. I did wonder why Bob Cart was not in attendance, but I assumed he was busy.

GreenVolts did not respond to my questions regarding the content of this post.


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