SolFocus scales CPV Series C to $77.6 Million

SolFocus_Logo Ramping and Scaling Concentrator PhotoVoltaic (CPV) Systems. Expanding manufacturing from 0.5 MW (MegaWatt) in 2008, to over 10 MW shipped in 2009, and 50 MW capacity by 2011.

Well, it is clear anyone reporting on Tuesday’s “Haywood Dorland Energy Capital, LLC, Invests in SolFocus, Inc., the Leading Developer of Advanced Concentrator PV Solar Technologies” didn’t do their due diligence.

Today with “SolFocus Raises over $77 Million in Series C Funding”, SolFocus Inc. said it closed the Series C round. About six months ago on January 8, 2009, with “SolFocus Raises $47.5M for Concentrating PV Solar” by Katie Fehrenbacher at Earth2Tech, SolFocus announced the $47.5 million first close Series C funding round and named company President Mark Crowley as CEO. Per Earth2Tech:

The company had reportedly been looking to raise closer to $60 million to $80 million for this round, and SolFocus confirmed with us that the entire round will likely be closer to $60 million to $70 million, with the second tranche of funding likely closed later this month.

Is there a Statue of Limitations on venture capital funding rounds? In this macroeconomic environment, any funding round is a commendable achievement, but six months does seem excessive.

With this completed Series C, SolFocus has raised around $173.3 million and perhaps more depending on how the DOE (Department of Energy) Solar America Initiative (SAI) PV Technology Incubator Program funds and ISFOC are counted.

Per SolFocus:

New investors in the round include Demeter Partners, affiliates of Advanced Equities, and others. Advanced Equities, Inc. served as the financial advisor to SolFocus on the financing. (Ed note: http://www.advancedequities.com)

There is no specific mention of the Haywood Dorland Energy Capital, LLC investment in the SolFocus press release.

According to Steven Pottle, Managing Principal and founder of Haywood Dorland Energy Capital:

Advanced Equities is a securities broker dealer that in this private equity financing worked for SolFocus and the VC funds to raise equity capital from small institutions and high net worth individuals. These investors bought equity in a special LLC formed by Advanced Equities and the LLC then bought preferred equity directly from SolFocus. This is a creative structure that allows investors that are accredited and small institutions to invest in a venture capital round of financing while relieving the company of having to deal with a large number of individual investors. In my opinion, we will see more transactions in the future with this type of structure.

From SolFocus SF-1100S-CPV-28 System (Photo Credit: SolFocus Inc.)

SolFocus does in fact have a SolFocus CPV System SF-1100S-CPV-28 datasheet. The CPV Rating of the system’s twenty-eight (28) modules combine for 8.4 kW (kiloWatt) of power at 850 W/m2 (Watts per meter squared) Direct Normal Irradiance, On-Sun, 20°C (centigrade) Ambient temperature. The inclusion of PV-Equivalent Rating metrics is encouraging, but I need to take more time to review the detailed specifications.

While “Solar short takes: PV continues push into the mainstream media, pet peeves perturb on the PR front” in the Chip Shots blog by Tom Cheyney at PV-tech.org was optimistic about the New York Times article, “Solar Companies Merge Technologies in Bid for Utility-Scale Production” by Katie Howell, my attention was focused on this passage:

Hartsoch said SolFocus and the CPV Consortium would like to see the federal government invest in the technology. It has already invested in research and development of CPV through its labs and grants to startup companies and academia. The next logical step, she said, is for the government to boost the scale-up process.

“You’re now talking about small grants … to develop new technologies and some showcasing, but if you want to take this big-scale, there’s one more hurdle,” Hartsoch said. “What can you do to help us assure that it’s safe to deploy?”

She suggested federal loan guarantees or installation of CPV demonstration projects on federal properties.

There are already policy carve outs supporting photovoltaics on the state and federal level and more in progress. Why should the federal government choose one technology, CPV, over other photovoltaic technologies like CIGS (copper indium gallium diselenide), thin film, or even monocrystalline silicon?

What does solar want? Lots.” by Marc Gunther (no relation) tackles the issue in an eloquent fashion.

As SolFocus begins the 10 MW Samaras Group installations this month on the Island of Crete, Greece, I am reminded of my only visit there in 1995. For the first time, I saw rows of modern wind turbines on the eastern portion of the island, and I later learned residents conserved fresh water to benefit tourists during the peak summer season. Crete has faced resource and climate issues for centuries. But everything came together when I was searching for a street address in Heraklion trying to decipher the Greek alphabet leveraging mathematical notation. That’s when I understood the cliché. It’s Greek to me!

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