Clean Power

Published on June 25th, 2014 | by Jake Richardson


$15 Million In Funding For Thin-Film Solar Company Siva Power

June 25th, 2014 by  

Siva PowerLast year a San Jose, CA, company called Solexant rebranded as Siva Power and starter to focus on CIGS thin-film solar. It looks like it’s refocusing strategy has been successful because it just got $15 million in funding from Acero Capital, DBL Investors, and Trident Capital. All three had invested in The company previously. Siva also has a first-time investor in the city of Wuxi, China.

Solexant started up in 2006 with a focus on cadmium-telluride solar and the mission to build its own factory. (This strategy might have been premature if its solar module production process had not been perfected.) Similar startups like SoloPower AQT, Nanosolar, and Solyndra peaked and plunged.

A pivotal moment for Solexant was the addition of Brad Mattson to its board. He had observed hundreds of similar companies and their stuggles. He helped the company switch to more efficient CIGS solar. Last year he explained in an article, “The ability to adjust the CIGS composition is not a negative, as portrayed, but a positive, because it allows you to vary the  composition through the film with different stoichiometry on the  back contact, bulk, and front contact. This is an awesome advantage and one of the reasons CIGS holds all the records. Yes, it requires superior process control, but we figured out how to do process control in other industries decades ago.”

Siva Power intends to use the influx of $15 million for scaling up a gigawatt-scale production facility. The new investment could help the company move towards making a solar thin-film module at a cost of 40 cents per watt. On the Siva Power website, the rationale for the business model is summarized as such: “Filling the 46,000 gigawatt energy gap by 2050 requires  a new solar business model that offers low cost at a profit.”

Leroy Luo has also been hired to head up Siva Power China to help with operations in that important market. He is an  industry veteran and principal at Elementary Energy Technologies.

Efficiencies of 20% for CIGS solar cells have been claimed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and  Zentrum für Sonnenenergie und Wasserstoff Forschung (ZSW).

Image Credit: Siva Power

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  • vensonata

    40cents per watt! That is staggeringly cheap. If the retail price was 50cents, the manufacturer would still make 20% profit. Now consider the lifetime electricity cost of such a panel. 1 kwh peak production could, in an average solar setting produce 1400 kwhr per year for 30 years. 42000kwh ( there could still be some years of life left but let’s be conservative). Cost of panel$500. That is 1.2cents per kilowatt hour! Yes there are inverters etc but the basic cost is almost laughably small especially in application of direct to d.c. such as well pumps, refrigeration etc.

    • Bob_Wallace

      A few months ago First Solar stated that their production costs would be 36 cents/watt by 2017.

      When Secretary Chu said that the goal was $1/watt installed I really did see how that could be possible Guess he had some insider information.

      • IMPOed

        Mr Wallace, What are your viewpoints on AGM vs. flooded batteries?
        Thank you
        Gregg Warnock

        • Bob_Wallace

          I really don’t know enough about AGMs to have formed an opinion.

          I just took a look at Trojan’s web site (I recently bought a set of T-105 REs – flooded cell batteries for renewable systems).

          Trojan makes a group 24 12 volt AGM but I can’t find a cycle graph in order to compare potential battery life.

          Comparing group 24 12 volt flooded and AGM it looks like the flooded has a bit higher capacity but is not quite as good in terms of self-discharge (if the batteries are going to be left unused for a while).

          I’d want to compare cycle life and, obviously, price.

          Found a cycle graph…

          About 2,800 cycles if held to 20% discharge. 1,000 at 50%.

          Checking the T-105 RE (6 volt), it’s rated at 4,000 cycles with 20% discharges and ~1,600 with 50%.

          Checking another site it looks like AGM are more spill proof (not an issue for stationary storage) and possibly a bit lighter (also not an issue).

          The site says that they have better cycle performance than lead acids but that may not be current with the new Trojan flooded cells with thicker plates. Looks like RE series flooded are definitely better.

          OK, this has been a learning experience. ;o)

          I’d say they are somewhat close so the choice would likely come down to cost. REs have better cycle life, AGMs lower self-discharge.

          I’d guess REs for a off-grid system that gets used daily. AGMs for a weekend cabin or RV.

          I’d suggest you take nothing I’m posting as gospel, but use it as a jumping off place and check things out for yourself. My first time through this issue and I could have screwed things up.

          Cost can vary a lot. It might depend on who is having a sale on what when you decide to purchase.

          I shopped around for the best web prices and found a local dealer who was willing to almost match that price. Since I didn’t have to pay shipping and could drop off my old batteries for no charge it turned out cheaper to buy locally.

          • IMPOed

            Thank you so much,,
            now I will expose my ignorance, how do know how deep your discharge is, voltage?
            Is all of this info in batteryuniversity?

          • Bob_Wallace

            I’ve got a system monitor (TriMetric – there are several brands) that tracks how many amp-hours go into and out of the system. I can read out the percent charge of the battery bank.

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