SolFocus, the leading developer of Concentrator Photovoltaic (CPV) systems, today announced that it has closed its Series C Funding round having raised $77.6 million. The company is completing its transition from pilot production to full scale commercialization, with the expansion of manufacturing from 0.5MW in 2008 to over 10MW to be shipped this year, with capacity for over 50MW going into 2011. The funds raised in this C Round will be used to support the rapid manufacturing ramp in the company’s transition to volume production. SolFocus announced a first close on the C Round in January of this year, at which time it had raised $47 million. Since that first close the company has raised an additional $30.6 million, bringing the total round to $77.6 million.
“Closing a round of investment with more than $77 million is no small feat in this challenging fund-raising environment, and a good indication of market expectations for SolFocus in 2009 – the year of CPV commercialization,” said Mark Crowley, Chief Executive Officer and President. “The investment will allow SolFocus to align its operations, engineering, and project management with the demands of global manufacturing and deployment.”
The C Round was led by Apex Venture Partners, a Chicago-based venture firm focused on investments in companies with high potential for value creation in a variety of sectors including technology, software, IT infrastructure and telecommunications. “The strength of a firm like Apex Venture Partners as the round lead was instrumental in our ability to exceed our fund-raising target,” commented SolFocus VP of Finance Bob Raybuck. “The strong product and market position of the company was also confirmed by the combination of existing and new investors joining the round.” Follow-on participants in the round included New Enterprise Associates (NEA) who led the A and B Rounds for the company, NGEN and Yellowstone Ventures. 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.
“SolFocus has the right mix of innovation and execution to deliver on its promise of low-cost solar energy in high-sun regions around the world,” commented Wayne Boulais of Apex Venture Partners. “The challenge for new technology in today’s tight capital markets is intense, but we believe that SolFocus has demonstrated its ability to move forward on a deliberate path that will allow the company to meet these challenges and excel.” Mr. Boulais is a General Partner at Apex Venture Partners, and has been elected to the SolFocus Board of Directors.
The SolFocus CPV design employs a system of reflective optics to concentrate sunlight 650 times onto small, highly efficient solar cells. The SolFocus 1100S uses approximately 1/1,000th of the active, expensive solar cell material compared to traditional photovoltaic panels. In addition, the cells used in SolFocus CPV systems have over twice the efficiency of traditional silicon cells. In solar-rich locations, such efficiency can accelerate the trajectory for solar energy to reach cost parity with fossil fuels.
The funding builds upon a series of commercial milestones for SolFocus: the release of the SolFocus 1100S system in November; the largest CPV installation in Europe currently underway in Greece; the first certification of a CPV system to IEC 62108 standards, and the 15X capacity expansion of the company’s manufacturing facility in Mesa, Arizona.