SolarBridge nails down $42m funding

SolarBridge, which is chasing its larger rival Enphase in the growing US market for micro-inverters, has closed on a $42m round of funding led by a venture-capital arm within US energy giant Exelon.

The biggest contributor to SolarBridge’s latest funding round was Constellation Technology Ventures – part of the Constellation Energy Group, which was acquired in 2012 by Exelon.

The money will be used principally for sales and marketing as SolarBridge “rapidly scales” its customer base in North America and Australia.

The funding round will see Michael Smith, head of Constellation Technology Ventures, join SolarBridge’s board of directors.

Although they require a greater upfront cost, micro-inverters boost the output of each individual module in a PV system – making a significant difference in small systems, such as those on residential rooftops.

While California’s Enphase dominates the still-small market for micro-inverters – which is largely confined to the US at present – SolarBridge, based in Austin, Texas, aims to catch up.

Last summer SolarBridge named SunPower veteran Bill Mulligan as its new chief executive, claiming it was entering a “new phase of growth”.

SolarBridge’s announcement comes less than two weeks after Austin’s other big solar hopeful – CIGS start-up HelioVolt – officially threw in the towel, with its South Korean backer, the SK Group, finally giving up on the company.

HelioVolt reportedly soaked up more than $200m in venture capital during its 13-year existence, yet never announced a single order of consequence.