Late last year we received a document published by Pittsburgh's Birchmere Ventures, an investor in copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) manufacturer MiaSolé. It outlined the company's proposed $100 million fundraising round, its product plans, and its 2011 IPO plans.
According to that document, "MiaSolé is now raising a $100 million Series F round to build out manufacturing and prepare for an IPO in 11H2. [...] Due to the generally difficult state of the capital markets over the past two years, and the failure of some other highly funded solar startups to achieve their milestones, solar investments have fallen out of current favor. The resultant decline in public and private solar company valuations is impacting MiaSolé, also, in spite of the company’s solid performance -- this will be a down round."
The prediction of a down round (a decrease in the valuation of the company) was absolutely correct and not a huge surprise given the current economics of solar and the inflated startup expectations of a few years ago.
According to the DowJones report, MiaSolé raised at least $106 million toward the Round F at a pre-money valuation of $550 million. New investors included Voyageur Mutual Funds III, which purchased 2.3 million shares of the Series F at a $10 million value, translating to $4.33 a share.
Compare this to the firm's pre-money valuation of $1.2 billion in July 2008 when Seligman Communications and Information Fund bought 805,620 Series E shares for $10 million, translating to $12.4 a share.
The startup's investors include Kleiner Perkins, Firelake Capital and VantagePoint Venture Partners.
MiaSolé has proven it can build CIGS panels at high efficiency and expects to ship 13 percent modules this year. The firm has had some positive announcements, such as working with Walmart and SolarCity, and the inevitable speedbumps, including a patent issue with Solannex. MiaSolé has also signed a 50-megawatt contract with solar project developers juwi Solar.
The Birchmere document goes on to outline MiaSolé's roadmap, many details of which we've already covered in our reporting here. The details from the Birchmere sales document:
- The company shipped 6.5 megawatts of 10.5 percent efficiency modules in 10H1, and will ship about 22 megawatts in 2010.
- MiaSolé announced certification by NREL of its 14.3 percent efficiency thin-film solar modules, and will secure UL certification in 11Q1. Cost then will be $0.79/W.
- The company has a clear roadmap to at least 15.5 percent efficiency and $0.70/W cost by YE12, pairing thin film cost structures with silicon efficiencies.
- In Jan 2010 MiaSolé received approval for $102 million in manufacturing tax credits, significantly lowering required capital for full commercialization.
- The company has high confidence in 750 megawatts of customer demand through 2012, with $413 million in revenue projected for that year.
As always, it comes down to price per watt and LCOE, and MiaSolé still has to prove it can compete on those performance metrics with First Solar and Yingli. And if MiaSolé is going to scale big -- it's going to have to raise a lot more than $125 million.