I ran into a colleague yesterday morning who said to watch for big things from Solaria. This must be what he was talking about.
EnXco, an EDF Energies Nouvelles Company, and Solaria just announced a five-year global supply agreement under which low concentration photovoltaic (LCPV) module manufacturer Solaria will supply their solar module to enXco. EnXco made a small equity investment in Fremont, California-based Solaria, as well. EDF develops, constructs, operates and manages wind and solar projects throughout the U.S.
Solaria's modules are designed specifically for ground-mounted tracking systems. The panels use less silicon than conventional flat panels, while matching the form, fit and performance of conventional PV modules.
The agreement is a combination of a firm order and options.
This is win for concentrating photovoltaics (CPV) technology, which is in the midst of a modest winning streak from the likes of Amonix, SolFocus, and Concentrix.
Some background on Solaria and its CEO
Solaria CEO Dan Shugar has been involved in the world of solar since the early days of 1988. He built PowerLight with Tom Dinwoodie (now CTO at SunPower), and that pioneering solar firm built over 500 large installations and grew strong from 1996 to 2006. SunPower purchased PowerLight in 2007 for $332 million as part of their downstream integration strategy.
Shugar worked at SunPower for a few years with strong results, taking a sabbatical in March of 2009. He then worked with the Sierra Club and helped "kill over 100 coal plants comprising 60 gigawatts of baseload coal."
Suvi Sharma, the CEO of Solaria, approached him in September of 2009 to consider a position with the company. Shugar initially said, "No, thanks." However, after some cajoling, Shugar and his own team of experts performed an extremely careful inspection of the company. And when everything checked out technically and financially, Shugar took the reins of VC-funded Solaria as CEO in January of this year.
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.