Rick Russell, VP of Engineering for Emcore Rooftop CPV Systems, formerly with Soliant, has clarified the reliability issue we alluded to in this previous article. Here is his response:
Soliant utilized contract manufacturers for electronics packaging of all supplied triple-junction solar cells. One contract manufacturer left behind trace amounts of contamination that attacked the cells over time. All cells, regardless of cell provider, packaged by this contract manufacturer had degradation issues over time. This degradation was not in any way the fault of the cell suppliers.
Soliant worked with multiple cell suppliers throughout its history. Soliant produced modules with cells supplied by Emcore, Spectrolab, SolarJunction, Cyrium and Spire. The majority of the modules Soliant produced utilized the high efficiency cells provided by Emcore. Emcore cells passed all reliability testing, were utilized in modules that are UL certified, and provided stable and reliable power output over time.
Soliant had entered in to a Long Term Agreement with Emcore to guarantee supply of cells as the CPV industry ramps up production. As part of this Long Term Agreement, Soliant had placed a down payment for cell supply with Emcore. Portions of this down payment were applied to cell deliveries over time, and $200,000 of this down payment was still available when Soliant was acquired by Emcore.
Original Article (dated March 28, 2011)
Emcore (NASDAQ:EMKR) is acquiring Soliant, the rooftop concentrated solar company, according to a reliable source. We're awaiting a response from the involved parties but have gotten a verification from other sources close to the deal.
And the sale price is -- drumroll please -- $450,000.
Soliant had raised more than $29 million in venture funding from Rockport Capital, Nth Power, Rincon Venture Partners, Convexa, Trinity Ventures, and GE Energy Financial Services.
We broke the story earlier this month that Soliant was suspending operations after dismissing all of its full time employees. But it looks like Soliant's technology will live to fight another day under the aegis of Emcore.
Monrovia, Calif.-based Soliant makes, or intended to make, concentrating photovoltaic (CPV) systems. The firm was focused on rooftop systems, rather than ground-mounted solar - not a tiny market, but still a sub-segment of the solar roof-mount market.
The firm had been amidst the ABC process (Assigment for the Benefit of Creditors) in the icy-cold hands of Sherwood Partners who also handled the acquisition bids. Other acquisition bids for Soliant included Amonix at $400,000, a venture capital firm from France, and a coalition of former Soliant executives and solar real estate firm called True Generation that offered a bid for $750,000, according to the source.
We have asked Martin Pichinson of Sherwood to comment and await his response.
One irony in Emcore purchasing Soliant is that reliability issues with Emcore's triple junction solar cells in the form of severe efficiency degradation had hobbled Soliant's progress just six months ago. Our source indicates that Emcore owed Soliant $200,000 because of those product failures and in fact Soliant had begun to use solar cells from startup, Solar Junction.
Emcore's market cap is $199.1 million. The firm has 900 employees and has made some questionable acquisiitons in the past.
The CPV market's growth hopes remain with Amonix, Emcore, Soitec, and SolFocus.