Sol Voltaics AB of Lund, Sweden, which is developing nanomaterials technology for enhancing solar cell efficiency, has closed a record funding round of $21.3m (reckoned to be the largest finance raise for a European solar technology company since 2015). The new funding will be used to accelerate commercialization of its SolFilm efficiency-boosting technology, which promises to increase conventional solar panel efficiencies by up to 50%.
The latest funding features new investment from Norwegian company Watrium AS, alongside previous investors Kagra Gruppen AS, Nordic VC firm Industrifonden, FAM AB, Nano Future Invest, Blue Marlin AB and Teknoinvest AS. The investment brings total funding raised to $38m in the past 12 months, following the $17m funding round in 2016.
As a patented, low-cost thin film consisting of billions of highly efficient gallium arsenide (GaAs) nanowires, SolFilm enables solar panel makers to reach efficiencies of up to 27% when integrated as a tandem-junction module. Having recently confirmed the manufacture of nanowires using its low-cost process Aerotaxy, Sol Voltaics is now in the final stages of technology optimization, expecting samples of SolFilm to be sent to partners by the end of 2018.
“This latest round of finance gives us the critical capital required to commercialize our efficiency-boosting technology for the solar market,” says CEO Erik Smith. “Having achieved our final major technology milestone with Aerotaxy earlier this year, we are now fully focused on reaching mass production of SolFilm.”
Last month Sol Voltaics enhanced its technology team by appointing Dr Stephanie Essig as senior device & characterization scientist. Essig – who previously worked with the US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (ISE) in Freiburg, Germany – is a solar cell world-record holder, having converted non-concentrated (1-sun) sunlight into electricity using a dual-junction III-V/silicon solar cell, reaching 29.8% one-sun efficiency.