Last month, sources close to Energy Innovations told GTM that the firm would be acquired by a strategic investor in the next few weeks and that some form of debtor protection might have to be taken prior to the envisioned sale.
There would seem to be far less to acquire once this auction takes place.
Despite the protestations of CEO Joe Budano in that conversation, it doesn't appear as if Energy Innovations will end up with a strategic partner.
Other than an auction house.
The assets of Energy Innovations, a pioneering concentrated photovoltaic (CPV) company, will be auctioned off on March 20, 2012 by Heritage Global Partners. The "non-core assets" consist of "high-tech manufacturing equipment, office furnishings and support equipment." The process will be conducted by Sherwood Partners, undertaker and angel of death to ailing industries. When Sherwood shows up with a booth at your industry event, bad times will follow.
Although the auction site maintains that these are "non-core" assets, the auction site lists more than 300 lots, including cameras, welders, robots, etchers, chambers, optical equipment, forklifts and furniture. The only thing remaining might be the IP, which could possibly be acquired by the mysterious strategic partner.
Investors in EI include IdeaLab and Mohr Davidow.
We've long maintained that concentrated photovoltaic (CPV) solar is a niche product, albeit with some potentially large niches -- notably, high DNI areas with limited water resources.
But scaling up and raising money from skittish VCs for solar startups has become particularly challenging in this post-Solyndra era (although a few CPV firms have received funding of late, including Solar Junction, Rehnu, Semprius, and GreenVolts.)
The new normal for solar startups and struggling public solar firms is investment from Asian and European strategic investors. (Rob Day recently weighed in on the topic.) Examples of the strategic investment from a corporate entity include Total's investment in SunPower, SK Innovation's investment in HelioVolt, Ascent Solar's Taiwanese corporate help from TFG Radiant, Stion's Korean investment, and GreenVolts' investment from ABB, to name a few.
Energy Innovations' CPV design was not without its unique qualities. The firm provided CPV product options, including a ground mount, a roof mount, and a carport configuration for its 2-axis CPV assemblies. The trackers were of the micro rather than the macro variety.
The CEO claimed that there was a healthy order backlog and that significant inroads had been made in regions with high feed-in tariffs and requirements for low-profile modules.