SoloPower, a manufacturer of flexible CIGS-based solar panels and recipient of a DOE loan guarantee, is stepping up the pace of its announcements on technology and personnel.

Last week, SoloPower raised the bar a little higher on the efficiency of its flexible solar panels built with a roll-to-roll electroplating process. SoloPower now boasts an NREL-measured aperture area efficiency of 13.4 percent. Module efficiency for the firm's SF1 panel is 11.4 percent, according to Tim Harris, the CEO. The SF1 panel is optimized for metal roofs and has a junction box that is located on the front of the panel.

The efficiency announcement comes at the same time that SoloPower is hiring for its 400-megawatt manufacturing facility in Portland, Oregon, with commercial production slated for later this year.

Following the efficiency and hiring announcement, SoloPower also just announced that General Wesley K. Clark (U.S., retired), former NATO Supreme Allied Commander of Europe and former U.S. presidential candidate, joined SoloPower’s Board of Directors. Clark is co-chairman of Growth Energy, an ethanol lobbying organization and a board director of BNK Petroleum, a shale gas developer and producer.

Clark was quoted in a press release as saying, “I look for energy solutions that help to address the energy and environmental challenges we face as a global community, which is what SoloPower’s lightweight, flexible PV panels do by maximizing efficiency while keeping total installed costs low.”

The value proposition for flexible modules from SoloPower is that there is less hardware required to install the modules and the installation is easier and less expensive. This thesis has yet to be proven in volume and scale.

Clark also spoke at this week's PV America West show in San Jose, Calif., where he said, “This is an industry central to America's future,” but added that it will require government support beyond 2016 “for the technology to mature and stand on its own feet," according to a report in EE Times.

Greentech corporate recipients of DOE loans in the manufacturing sector such as Solyndra, Abound Solar, Fisker Automotive, and Beacon Power have met their share of challenges. Tesla Motors, a DOE loan recipient, might buck that trend.

VC investors in SoloPower include Hudson Clean Energy Partners, Crosslink Capital, Convexa, and Firsthand.