Thin-film solar firm Nanosolar says it has raised $300 million
By Matt Nauman
Mercury News
Article Launched: 08/27/2008 11:27:32 AM PDT

San Jose’s Nanosolar, a manufacturer of thin-film solar panels, said Wednesday that it has raised $300 million to help it complete production lines in Silicon Valley and in Germany. It’s the largest amount of money raised by a solar start-up this year, and confirms that investors see the company’s technology as ready for prime time.

“It’s obviously a huge win for us,” Martin Roscheisen, Nanosolar’s chief executive, said in an e-mail from Europe.

The company, located in South San Jose’s Edenvale clean-technology development district, uses copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) rather than silicon for its solar panels. The promise of thin-film solar is that it will be much cheaper than traditional panels. Previously, Nanosolar talked about being the first company capable of profitably selling solar panels for 99 cents a watt.

Describing the investment as “one of the larger funding rounds we’ve seen in the solar energy marketplace,” an industry observer noted that big dollars are flowing into solar now as the technology moves from the lab to the factory.

“Nanosolar has plenty of company in the photovoltaic and concentrating solar power start-up space,” said Michael Bates, managing editor of Solar Industry magazine. “Companies such as HelioVolt, SolFocus and Suniva have all taken part in investment rounds exceeding $50 million.”

Since announcing in December that it shipped its first commercial panel, destined for a small solar array at a wastewater treatment plant in Germany, Nanosolar has been relatively quiet. Roscheisen still wouldn’t name names Wednesday.

“We have a short list of the industry’s most experienced, most scalable, and most bankable customers,” he said. “We don’t announce names at this point. We have many billions under contract.”

On the company’s blog, Roscheisen described the funding as “a strategic $300 million equity financing.” It includes money from many sources, including AES Solar, a joint-venture of AES, a large power-plant builder based in Virginia; Riverstone Holdings, a New York private equity firm; the Carlyle Group; EDF Renewables, the green division of a large utility based in France; Energy Capital Partners; Lone Pine Capital; the Skoll Foundation, GLG Partners; Beck Energy; Pierre Omidyar; and Grazia Equity.

Once at full capacity, Nanosolar’s San Jose factory will be able to produce enough panels each year to generate 430 megawatts of electricity and its Berlin plant will be able to make enough panels to produce 620 megawatts. The energy industry rule of thumb says 1 megawatt can power 750 California homes, but solar is an intermittent source of that power.

In 2007, the San Jose City Council approved a $2 million package for training and equipment to lure Nanosolar from Palo Alto. It has subsequently authorized more money to attract other solar companies.

Progress on Nanosolar’s factories is “slightly ahead” of schedule, Roscheisen said. But he added, “Obviously, starting up any advanced factory like these has its load of start-up kinks to be worked through. It’s a lot of work.”

Nanosolar closed the $300 million funding in March, but didn’t confirm it until Wednesday after a wire-service story reported it.

“At this time we are focused on product and customers, and want to be known for making money, not raising money,” Roscheisen said. “This financing was literally just a side effect of the industry partnerships we have established to implement solar utility power.”

I didn’t buy solar panels in 2006 and 2007 because I was waiting for the cheap panels Nanosolar had promised to be RETAILING. 

In fact, their website sported an invitation for resellers to register and I wasn’t the only one waiting.

And then something ODD happened.  They decided to sell only to big corporations and now are going for the big bucks – partnering with private equity firms and the infamous Carlyle Group (wiki).

Major start-up investment came from one of the Google founders. 

Google turned from the cool start-up to the giant monster controlling the internet.  Since Google bought youTube, they started to remove “anti government” videos.  Google attended the 2008 Bilderberg meeting and we’re about to have the web censored just like in China.

The goal:  replacing oil with solar for the power companies

The one thing they do NOT want is INDEPENDENT citizens who do NOT pay the power company for their electricity.  Power is a huge business and the profits are ENORMOUS.  If everybody bought a few solar panels, how would they exploit the working people?

They want to continue to CONTROL the population and of course the government.

There is no energy crisis, it’s all manufactured by the government and the oil and now solar companies.  If Bush had spent the money he wasted in Iraq and Afghanistan on producing solar, wind and other alternative energy products (there are so many!) we would be completely energy independent.

It is about MORE than profits for the corporations. It’s about CONTROL and the ability to start profitable wars over resources.