Solexel in $31m funding round: report

Solexel, the SunPower-backed start-up company that promises to make PV cells with vastly less silicon than normal, has raised $31m in its latest equity funding round, according to press reports.

The money will be used to get the San Francisco company over the hump and into commercial-scale module production by next year, reportedly in Malaysia.

Founded in 2005 as Soltaix, the company now known as Solexel has raised more than $200m after its latest funding round, while managing to survive the PV industry’s downturn of several years ago, which saw many solar start-ups fold.

SunPower, among the largest US-based PV manufacturers, invested in Solexel two years ago.

Solexel is developing technology that uses silicon gas rather than wafers to make PV cells, a technique it believes will allow it to offer the performance of high-efficiency crystalline silicon (c-Si) cells at the cost of the most competitive thin-film cells – such as those made by First Solar.

Another US solar start-up looking to break free from the traditional wafers used by the c-Si solar sector is Massachusetts-based 1366 Technologies.