Solaria – An Old PV Technology Idea is New Again

Back when polysilicon was in short supply and priced at $400 per metric ton (MT) in late 2006, many startup and early stage PV technology companies built their business plans on the assumption that this material would not go down much in price. One such company is Solaria which has had over $70M in investment capital from the VC community and strategic investment from German solar manufacturing powerhouse, QCells.

solar cell, solaria, solar energySolaria has a unique low concentration lens built into top glass of the module which is then placed on a 1 axis tracker. The concentration allows for less silicon cell material to be used in the module to produce the same or more energy than from a conventional module and at lower cost.  A smart solution to the market place conditions at that time.

Fast forward to 2009, polysilicon prices have dropped to average $50MT and commodity crystalline module prices have declined more than 50%. This situation has created substantial heartburn for companies like Solaria where the cost/performance ratio is seemingly eliminated especially when having to rely on trackers.

But good entrepreneurs adjust and innovate further and Solaria have done just that. A recent large investment coupled with an order for their distinctive modules from a tier 1 project developer has brought the company back from the brink. While pricing and other details have not been released, this will be an interesting story going forward.

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