MiaSole Nabs Another $55 Million for Thin-Film Solar

In a tough time for a solar company – especially a thin-film manufacturer – to raise money, MiaSole raised another $55 million to drive its next wave of growth.

The company says it’s begun production of modules rated at 14% conversion efficiency, an increase of 30% over the past year. It says it has the industry’s lowest capex per watt because of its streamlined manufacturing process, under 50 cents. 

It’s looking for a buyer or licensing partner to expand beyond the 55 megawatts (MW) installed across North America, Europe and Asia. It has a 150 MW factory in Santa Clara, California. It needs $100 million to $300 million or more to expand globally, but this equity raise will give Miasole some room to further improve efficiency and performance.

"This additional investment will allow us to take the company to the next level and we are focused on aggressively building the commercial side of our business with both our traditional glass-on-glass and flexible products. We have demonstrated technology leadership and are now focused on commercial performance, says John Carrington, CEO.

In the first quarter of 2011, MiaSole raked in $106 million in one of the largest equity raises. That round represented 24% of total dollars invested in cleantech for the quarter. Since it was  founded in 2004, it’s raised about $550 million in venture capital.

Investors include Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB), Firelake Capital, Bessemer Venture Partners,  and VantagePoint Venture Partners and Passport Capital.

Young solar companies like MiaSole have been struggling against the influx of low cost Chinese solar manufacturers – they’ve been forced to look for niches in which they can survive and grow.

Another solar firm, NanoSolar closed a $20 million round in early March, but they took a big hit on valuation to do it.

These investments are notable given the uneasiness investors have expressed about investing in capital intensive solar businesses since Solyndra.

Rivals like First Solar (Nasdaq: FSLR) are scaling back production right now because of oversupply and weaker demand for solar.

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