Power and automation conglomerate ABB has invested $20 million into GreenVolts, a solar startup that has revamped its business model to design and custom-build every component that goes into a solar generation station.
GreenVolts unveiled this week its new end-to-end solar power system and announced it had raised $35 million ($20 million coming from ABB) in its latest funding round. ABB will take a "substantial minority stake" in the company, according to a statement released Wednesday.
The funding announcement is important for the obvious reason: GreenVolts is a startup and fledgling companies need financing. Plus, it's well-timed. The solar industry is undergoing a painful consolidation and startup companies that want to survive and scale up need funding and partnerships with big, established players like ABB.
GreenVolts' new end-to-end systems is just as important, especially over the long term. GreenVolts makes solar concentrating photovoltaic systems -- essentially a clean-energy mashup of solar panels and solar thermal tech. The systems use mirrors and lenses to concentrate light from the sun onto super-efficient cells to produce electricity.
GreenVolts is ditching the traditional approach of sourcing parts from different suppliers and opting instead to design and make the entire concentrating solar system -- that's everything including modules, trackers, inverters and the energy management software -- on its own. According to a GreenVolts spokesperson, the company uses contract manufacturers in China to make its systems, keeping the overhead costs extremely low.
As CNET writer Martin LaMonica noted, GreenVolts has adopted a business model similar to Apple, which designs products start to end. The aim is better performance at a lower cost, a goal GreenVolts says is attainable. GreenVolts claims its fully integrated solar systems produces 30 percent to 40 percent more energy than traditional photovoltaic arrays.
This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com