Concentrators for photovoltaic modules may still be a zero-billion-dollar market, but money from investors continues to flow in.

Solaria, which combines a silicon solar cell and a concentrator in a single package, says it raised $20 million more today, bringing its total to $65 million.

Solaria's technology is based on dicing or "singulating" a standard crystalline silicon wafer and mounting these strips on a substrate with a lensing system that essentially halves the requirement for silicon. The lensing and concentration is integrated into the rolled cover glass, representing a significant change from an earlier acrylic sub-assembly design.

The company is run by Dan Shugar, who helped found Powerlight (bought by SunPower) and has worked in solar since 1988.


--Lawrence Berkeley National Labs has come out with a study that examines the impact of more solar on the grid. It concluded that geographic diversity helps stabilize the impact of variable sources. In other words, solar becomes more dependable as it becomes more pervasive. Read more here.

--The California Energy Commission gave the green light to the 250-megawatt solar thermal project proposed by Spain's Abengoa. The CEC in August recommended that the go-ahead be given to the construction phase of the project. Construction could begin before the end of the year.

The plant, located about 100 miles north of Los Angeles in San Bernadino County, will rely on parabolic mirrors and liquid-filled tubes to concentrate heat and generate power. It's the old-fashioned architecture for solar thermal plants, but it's also the predominant one. Parabolic troughs account for 94 percent of systems in the ground and 95 percent of those under construction.

The project is one of nine solar thermal projects slated to go before the CEC. The projects -- which will provide 4.3 gigawatts of power if built -- need to obtain approval before the end of the year to qualify for stimulus dollars.

The eight other projects are: the 250 MW Beacon Solar Energy Project; the 1,000 MW Blythe Solar Power Project; the 850 MW Calico Solar Project; the 250 MW Genesis Solar Energy Project; the 709 MW Imperial Valley Solar Project; the 370 MW Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System Project; the 500 MW Palen Solar Power Project; and the 150 MW Rice Solar Energy Project.

Over 30 thermal projects are on the books nationwide, according to solar thermal expert Brett Prior at GTM Research.

--Canadian Solar has become an official sponsor of the San Francisco Giants, thereby deepening the solar-sports connection. Earlier this year, Yingli sponsored the World Cup. Roller derby teams in the Bay Area have been scouring for a sponsor.

--JA Solar said it signed contracts to sell 500 more megawatts in 2011. Last month, JA said it would increase production capacity to 1.8 gigawatts from the previous target of 1.5 gigawatts by the end of the year.

--Finally, SunPower said it would plant 200 megawatts of solar in Italy in 2011, nearly double the 108 megawatts SunPower will plant this year.