The slashing continues at CIGS solar PV aspirant Nanosolar.

Last week Nanosolar went through a round of layoffs, according to sources and as verified with a company spokesperson. The spokesperson would not reveal the magnitude of the staff cuts. Sources claimed 75 percent of the staff was let go. The spokesperson said that Nanosolar was "in a quiet period" and would soon release a statement about the alternatives available for the firm.

Nanosolar prints CIGS inks on aluminum foil in a roll-to-roll process without using high-vacuum manufacturing equipment. It has always been a technology with promise, but Nanosolar, founded in 2002, has tended to underachieve. The extremely well-funded startup has had a history of technical and commercial promises, most recently these relating to cost:

  • Low $0.80s or high $0.70s per watt by late 2012
  • In the $0.60s in 2013
  • Below $0.60 per watt in 2014


But the company has produced a total of less than 100 50 megawatts since its founding in 2002, despite having raised more than $400 million from a long list of investors including Benchmark Capital, EDF Group, Firelake Capital Management, GLG Partners, Grazia Equity, Lone Pine Capital, Mitsui & Co., Riverstone Holdings, SAC Capital, Swiss Re and U.S. Venture Partners.

The most recent $70 million round came from Mohr Davidow, OnPoint Technologies, Aeris Capital and Ohana Holdings at a valuation slashed from $2.1 billion to $50 million, according to VentureWire.  (We reported on Mohr Davidow's pivot in greentech VC here.)

The only investors ever to make money in CIGS are USVP and Garage Ventures. USVP sold its shares in Nanosolar and exited at a small multiple in 2005, according to Nanosolar's founding CEO Martin Roscheisen. Garage Ventures "sold a big chunk of stock in the third round," when MiaSolé stock had a valuation of $400 million, according to Bill Reichert, a partner at the VC firm. MiaSolé was sold for $30 million.

The firm is shipping panels with an efficiency in the 10 percent to 11 percent range. Targets of 13 percent in 2013 and 14 percent in 2014 were claimed with a focus on utility deployments. 

Martin Roscheisen was the original CEO through 2010. Geoff Tate was CEO for about two years, replaced by Eugenia Corrales, who in turn was replaced by Karl Steigele.

Nanosolar's largest solar installation is a 10.6-megawatt solar project in the Valencia region of Spain.

GTM Research has these estimates for CIGS solar production numbers in 2011:

  • Solar Frontier, 577 megawatts
  • Solibro, 95 megawatts (Sold to Hanergy)
  • MiaSolé, 60 megawatts (Sold to Hanergy)
  • Solyndra, 40 megawatts (Bankrupt)
  • Avancis, 25 megawatts
  • Global Solar, 19 megawatts (Now selling only consumer solar products)
  • Soltecture, 14 megawatts (Bankrupt)
  • Nanosolar, 10 megawatts (?)


The next generation of thin film might come from Hanergy, SK Innovation, TSMC, Hyundai, LG, AUO, Mitsubishi, or Samsung. Or the acquirer of Nanosolar.