Solaria, a low concentration PV panel firm announced a new, high-profile CEO today - Dan Shugar, formerly of SunPower.
Shugar is a dream CEO to helm the VC-funded Solaria. He was the skipper of PowerLight Corporation, a commercial solar installer where he navigated that company into an acquisition by the mighty SunPower for more than $300 million. Venture firms love to hire CEOs who have steered their firms to successful exits and Shugar fits the bill. He is a solar success story and brings real-world experience to Solaria's senior staff. While at SunPower he was president of SunPower Systems, their installation and integration arm.
A few years ago, prior to the SunPower acquistion, I shared a plane ride with Shugar and watched him survey the landscape as we landed in Palm Springs. He mentioned that he saw every flat roof as a potential customer. He was driven then and I'm sure he's driven now.
In the press release, Shugar spouted the usual PR pablum: “Solaria has a great team and terrific technology. Our module will transform the economics of solar installations" and “Solaria’s patented technology gives us the opportunity to double the existing silicon PV capacity in the marketplace." etc, etc. You can hear more of that here.
Solaria’s modules use half the number of silicon cells in conventional modules, while matching form, fit and performance. Along with the CEO announcement, Solaria also ended a long quiet-spell with an announcement of a 230 Watt panel, a power output that puts them in the middle to high end of power outputs. They provide a 25 year warranty and seem to be gearing the product for single-axis tracking applications, a la SunPower.
I wrote a bit about Solaria, in less than glowing terms, in Solar Start-up Bloodbath 2010. I maintain that stance -- replacing half the silicon with a potentially expensive, time consuming, and low-yield process made only a little sense when silicon was expensive. By all accounts, the price of silicon is forecast to continue to fall and that just erodes Solaria's value proposition. The metrics that matter are dollars per Watt, dollars per Watt of capex, and efficiency. Solaria's PR firm declined to provide dollar per Watt info.
Other low concentration PV firms include SV Solar. May they rest in peace.