Solar firms light up the money tree

Several hundred million dollars in capital financing has been invested into the solar manufacturing industry this week, and further investment is planned.

Abound Solar produces thin–film photovoltaic panels.

A steady succession of capital investments has been a boon to the solar manufacturing industry. Abound Solar and Soladigm are among the latest beneficiaries.

Abound Solar, a producer of solar panels, announced today that it raised US$110M in a new round of equity funding in addition to a $400 million loan guarantee from the United States Department of Energy.

The funding will be allocated toward expanding manufacturing capacity at both its existing facility in Colorado and later at a second site in Indiana some time after 2011, according to the company.

Abound Solar has raised $260 million since its inception in 2007, and specializes in producing thin-film photovoltaic modules. Proponents say that thin-film photovoltaic modules are more economical to manufacture than traditional solar panels.

Also today, Soladigm announced $30 million series C investment. New investors include DBL Investors, GE, and NanoDimension. The company produces “smart glass” that changes its tint in response to light or temperature changes.

Note: these buildings look pretty cool. There is a smart glass building located in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood, which viewable from High Line park.

“We are grateful for the strong endorsement we are receiving with this significant infusion of capital from our financial partners. In addition to our funding, we are honored to have been among the esteemed list of GE ecomagination Challenge winners and are excited to partner with a global leader like GE to drive advancements in building technology,” CEO Dr. Rao Mulpuri, said in a prepared statement.

GE announced new bets on renewable energy investments today beyond its $6 billion multi-year target, which was met earlier this month. Managing director Kevin Walsh told MarketWatch that GE would be focusing primarily on offshore wind and solar power plants.

GE is not alone in its focus on solar energy. In May, energy giant Chevron published a “corporate responsibility” report stating that solar and geothermal investments were key to the company’s sustainability strategy.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com