Thin-Silicon Solar Startup Solexel Gets $31 Million
Milpitas, California-based thin-silicon solar company Solexel has obtained a round D funding of $31 million. The company now has secured just over $200 million in venture capital funding. The latest round is for helping it go into commercial production.
The official press release says, “Investors in Solexel include Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Technology Partners, DAG Ventures, Northgate Capital, GSV Capital Corp. (NASDAQ: GSVC), Gentry Venture Partners and Jasper Ridge Partners. Both existing and new investors participated in this fundraising round, including new investor GAF, the largest roofing materials manufacturer in North America.”
In 2015, Solexel wants to make 20%-efficient photovoltaic modules available to the market. A slightly higher efficiency was achieved and certified by NREL in 2014.
The company has a different approach to making solar cells. It uses silicon gas, which costs less than bulk silicon wafers. Additionally, the company says its materials are chemically inert and environmentally benign.
Cell construction occurs in Milipitas and the company is looking into building a production facility in Malaysia.
This may be dated information but one source indicated that the plant would be located at Senai Hi-Tech Park. “A memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed today for the construction of a crystalline silicon solar cell manufacturing plant at the Senai Hi-Tech Park (SHTP) in the Iskandar Malaysia region. It was between SHTP, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Senai Airport Terminal Services Sdn Bhd, and Solexel (M) Sdn Bhd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of California based Solexel Inc.”
Their panels will be offered in framed and frameless versions. Flexible cells don’t need the conventional glass and metal frames that are typical for other solar cells. Their back-contact cells also don’t have gridlines, which may prove more aesthetic for some applications.
The company participated in DoE’s PV Incubator program and has a roadmap to 23.5 percent cell efficiency and a 42 cents/watt PV module production cost.
The Solexel thin-silicon solar does not use copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS), a process that was employed by some Silicon Valley companies that went under. Solyndra, MiaSolé, Nanosolar, and SoloPower were some of the promising startups that didn’t survive.
Solexel (formerly Soltaix) was founded in 2005 by Mehrdad Moslehi, Ph.D.