Solexant has raised the first close of a $41.5M Round C from Olympus Capital Partners, DBL Investors, Brichmere Ventures, Trident Capital, Firelake Capital and Medley Partners. An SEC filing shows that they have closed $12.5 million of a $64-million-dollar round.
Solexant claims to have a materials-agnostic platform and a capital-efficient manufacturing process, which brings the cost of solar manufacturing down to 50 cents per watt (that's the fashionable price-per-watt number to be making wild claims about these days).
Solexant was founded in 2006 by Dr. Damoder Reddy along with Prof. Paul Alivisatos of U.C. Berkeley, Prof. Paras Prasad of SUNY Buffalo and Prof. Sue Carter of U.C. Santa Cruz. (Paul Alivisatos inherited DOE Secretary Steve Chu’s old job in running LBNL.) Solexant's CFO, James McNicholas, VP of Engineering Craig Leidholm, and VP of Product Development Paul Adriani all served at semi-stealthy Nanosolar prior to joining Solexant. The firm had previously raised more than $20 million in venture funding from X/Seed Capital, Trident Capital, Medley Partners and Firelake Capital.
While on a recent panel I moderated, the CEO claimed that they endeavor not to depend on government subsidies to be competitive, and are targeting a fifty-cent-per-watt cost and a sales price of one dollar per watt. Reddy disclosed that the forty-plus employee firm is working with inorganic nanocrystals on a flexible roll-to-roll substrate and that their end-product is solar panels, not cells.
Which sounded like they are aiming to be Nanosolar II, although Solexant's patent applications cover a wide range of technologies and materials.
That was when they were sort of stealthy. They've now revealed a bit more about their technology and their 2-megawatt pilot line, which they claim is churning out nanocrystal cells and modules with efficiencies that challenge thin-film leaders by using "ultrathin-film PV technology."
Solexant uses the fabled “roll-to-roll” manufacturing technique, which allegedly allows more efficient use of equipment space, as well as higher throughput and lower labor costs than competing thin film companies, many of whom are also using roll-to-roll processes. Exhibit A: MiaSole.
The flexible thin films can use a variety of materials and are built through a deposition process. Solexant’s first commercial products will be based on printed CdTe nanocrystals. The company plans to commercialize solar cells based on other higher efficiency printed nanocrystal materials over the next few years.
California seems to gestate firms like Solexant, Twin Creeks, and MiaSole, but cannot offer them the incentives necessary to convince them to stay. According to Oregon Live, "Damoder Reddy, chief executive of Solexant, confirmed today that the San Jose company plans a solar plant in the Portland area. Solexant is seeking a $25 million loan from the state of Oregon to finance a solar-cell plant that could grow from 100 megawatts to 400 megawatts of annual module manufacturing capacity."