Suniva, a spin-off of Georgia Tech’s Center for Excellence in Photovoltaics and one of the more interesting solar cell makers developing higher and higher conversion efficiencies, announced that a $141 million loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Energy. This adds to the more than $375 million they have raised through the private markets, from partners such as New Enterprise Associates, Advanced Equities, Warburg Pincus, Apex Venture Partners, and HIG Ventures.
Private investments have been limited for solar companies over the past several years. Part of this can be accounted for by the risk of the technology advancement, while another large hindrance is the capital-intensive nature of the business. It can be relatively inexpensive to prove new high-efficiency solar cell technology compared to the hundreds of millions, if not billions, required to scale up to thousands of megawatts required for most utilities.
The DOE has stepped in to help bridge the gap with this investment and two earlier ones. The DOE initially guaranteed a $535 million loan for Solydra, which has since filed to go public. The second was a $1.37 billion loan guarantee to BrightSource Energy.
This loan will be a huge help for Suniva, but not so much for the state of Georgia. Suniva plans to use the loan guarantee to build a second solar cell manufacturing plant in Michigan. Estimates state that this will create 500 permanent jobs and 2,000 temporary constructions jobs.
Read the full press release here.