Would you believe 200 Solar Startups?
A few months ago, I told the Greentech Media Braintrust that I had a list of about 100 solar startups. Their response, not surprisingly, was “blog it."
So I started categorizing the list and the list kept growing until I was able to publish a six-part blog piece called “150 Solar Startups."
- Part 1: Wafered Silicon, Installers, Financiers, Balance of Systems
- Part 2: CPV
- Part 3: Next-Gen PV
- Part 4: Thin Film
- Part 5: Solar AC and CHP
- Part 6: CSP
But the thing took on a life of its’ own -- a Google search yields a thousand hits for “150 Solar Startups" and all of a sudden I started hearing from people I didn’t know -- they’d ask, “Did you know there were more than 150 solar startups?
Of course I know -- I wrote the flipping article.
Anyway, I’ve spent the last few weeks updating the list and updating it again and we’re up to more than 200 solar startups. Note that this list is devoted to VC funded and pre-VC firms, not OTC firms, not publicly traded firms. Of course the list will never be complete -- there are stealth firms and science projects being liberated from labs every day
The good news is -- there are enormous amounts of innovation, entrepreneurship, commitment and eager investors to back these companies. The not-so-good news is that very few of these firms will survive to reach commercial scale. And as tragic as that can be for some of these firms and people -- this is the innovation engine of creation and destruction that makes venture capital in the U.S. and Silicon Valley work.
Here are some firms recently added to the master list:
Menova Energy: Canadian CSP firm with at least $3.6 million in VC funding and Canadian government funding.
Sundrop Fuels: Solar thermal systems that produce hydrogen and electricity via Solar Reduction of Carbon Dioxide, or Solarec. According to Venture Beat, Sundrop received a $20 million investment from KPCB in early 2008 and is also backed by Sun Mountain Capital and Oak Investment Partners.
Solar Financiers and Installers
SoCore Energy: With $1.5 million in private funding, SoCore is a solar system developer promoting PPAs focused on commercial, low-rise buildings.
21-Century Silicon: Low cost solar-grade polysilicon manufacture via a proprietary furnace design. The firm raised $1 million from Solar EnerTech in September 2008.
Solar Cell Repower: Improving solar cell efficiency -- “repowering non-prime solar cells" with a $1.5 million Round A from NorthZone Venture in December 2008. Based in Norway.
CHP and Solar Water Heating
BrightPhase Energy: Privately held firm combines skylights, CPV and, thermal solar -- planning to offer the product via a PPA model. According to its website, the company is seeking $6 million in funding.
ThermaSun: Self-funded startup now seeking outside funding builds solar thermal systems that supply hot water and heating for commercial, corporate and residential applications. Its target market is green home architects and builders.
eQsolaris: Micro-concentrator solar cells using Kyosemi’s free-fall droplet photodiode “Sphelar" cells with an optical and electrical connection from Energy Related Devices. eQsolaris is seeking capital for a pilot production plant.
Solaroad: Solar power generation from a-Si and thermionic temperature-activated materials.
StarSolar: Pre-VC startup, winner of MIT competitions, working on photonic crystals in solar cells.
OmniPV: formerly known as UltraDots, funded by Morgenthaler Ventures and InterWest Partners. The firm uses a thin layer of a non-silicon material to harness solar energy. Ultradots, OmniPV’s predecessor had patents in using nanoparticles and QDs for authentication purposes.
Solar Manufacturing and Processes
Five Star Technologies: Cavitation technology-based ink formulations for screen-printable solar inks for front surface contacts. VC funding from Morgenthaler Partners, Industrial Technology Ventures, Reservoir Venture Partners et al. for a number of markets including solar.
Balance of Plant / Inverter Technology
Apollo Solar: Modular inverters, charge controllers and energy management systems, and communications for residential solar electric systems. Privately held firm with DOE SEGIS funding and a $4.5 million equity round in October 2008. Apollo is a spin-off of Electronic Design Lab.
Princeton Power Systems: Inverter and power conversion technology with Round C funding from GHO Ventures in 2008. PPS also received funding from the DOE Solar Energy Grid Integration Systems (SEGIS) program for a 100kW demand response inverter with integrated control capabilities for dynamic energy storage and demand response through load control.
TerraWatt Power: A solar-inverter startup in the midst of raising a $1.5 million round of funding, President Gary McDaniel told Greentech Media. The firm claims to have raised $1.5 million in angel funding and $1 million in grants. Their inverter technology, like many other entrants, uses Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT). Additionally, their inverter disconnects from the grid during outages and feeds electricity directly into the home.
If I've overlooked your firm, leave a comment and we'll get it added to the list.