NanoSolar Raises Another $50 Million

Nanosolar, which uses nanotechnology to print thin film solar, closed another $50 million equity round after raising $20 million in March, bringing its total raised to about $500 million since its start in 2002.

It’s one of five companies that raised about 60% of the total funding in the first quarter of 2012.

Based in California, Nanosolar prints solar cells based on CIGS technology and nanoparticle inks. It prints on low-cost aluminum foil and uses roll-to-roll printable semiconductor technology to deliver the lowest cost thin film solar products.

This approach minimizes the use of expensive, high vacuum manufacturing equipment, and enables Nanosolar’s solar cells and panels to reach efficiencies competitive with crystalline silicon panels, they say.

Its first product, the Nanosolar Utility Panel, enables competitively priced peak power and installed system economics at utility-scale.

The Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Lab(NREL) certified Nanosolar’s cell efficiency at 17.1%.

The company began commercial production in Germany in 2009 and has expanded to 100 megawatts of capacity, way less than anticipated when it raised $300 million in 2008.

The new funds will enable further expansion, support research and development designed to deliver greater efficiency, and drive faster commercialization of its solar technology.  

Nanosolar shipped 10 MW in 2011, less than other start-up CIGS solar manufacturers like MiaSole, which shipped 60 MW, and nowhere near the largest CIGS manufacturer Solar Frontier, which has a new 900 MW factory and a deal for 150 MW.

Investors in this latest round include OnPoint Technologies, Mohr Davidow Ventures, Ohana Holdings, and Family Offices.

Solar start-ups have been re-tooling to compete with low priced Chinese manufacturers, which hasn’t been easy.

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