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GE Jolts Solar Pioneer

Photonics.com
Oct 2008
SAN DIEGO & MONROVIA, Calif., October 15, 2008 – GE Energy Financial Services announced that it will invest $2.5 million in Monrovia-based Soliant Energy. The announcement was made at Solar Power International 2008 in San Diego, Calif.

Soliant, founded by NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory scientists and engineers, is developing what it intends to be the most efficient and lowest cost technology to generate electricity from the sunlight that shines on commercial rooftops, a market it estimates will reach $13.2 billion by 2010.

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GE Energy Financial Services is joining a group providing nearly $21 million in venture capital to Soliant Energy, which is developing high-efficiency solar modules (prototypes shown here) that it intends will deliver commercial customers the highest return on their solar investment.

Soliant’s goal is to deliver commercial building owners the highest return on their solar investment. According to the company, their rooftop concentration modules aim to be the market’s most efficient, and will deliver the highest total energy yield when integrated into complete rooftop systems. GE estimates that commercial and industrial buildings comprise 60 percent of the total roof area in the United States.

Compatible with conventional racks and inverters, its modules leverage high efficiency solar cells and integrated two-axis tracking to maximize the total energy harvest. This increased performance results in lower system costs, high energy density and corresponding high return on investment. Soliant plans to open a 40-megawatt production plant late next year.

GE’s vote of confidence in Soliant’s technology adds to Soliant’s development efforts, supported by the US Department of Energy, which is providing the company with $4 million as part of the government’s “Solar America” initiative designed to spur innovation in solar power.

"GE's strategic investment is validation that our approach provides commercial customers with the lowest-cost solar electricity at the plug," said Art Buckland, Soliant’s CEO.

GE is focusing on solar power as part of Ecomagination, the company’s program to help its customers meet their environmental challenges while expanding its own portfolio of cleaner energy products.

“Concentrating photovoltaic solar power is especially viable for space-constrained applications such as commercial rooftops and Soliant is well positioned with its elegant design, market-leading efficiency and potential for low installed cost per kilowatt hour of energy produced,” said Kevin Walsh, managing director and leader of renewable energy at GE Energy Financial Services.

Taking advantage of GE’s wide-ranging capabilities, GE Energy Financial Services made its investment decision with the benefit of technical input from the GE Global Research Center in Niskayuna, NY, which evaluated Soliant’s technology.

GE Energy Financial Services’ seven-member venture capital group led this investment. With offices in Boston, Stamford, CT, San Francisco, and Munich, Germany, the group has invested more than $150 million in the last two years in early- and growth-stage energy- and water-related technology companies.

GE joins Soliant’s other investors in its latest funding round, led by Convexa Capital. Earlier investors include RockPort Capital Partners, Nth Power, Trinity Ventures and Rincon Venture Partners.

For more information, visit: www.soliant-energy.com

 



GLOSSARY
photonics
The technology of generating and harnessing light and other forms of radiant energy whose quantum unit is the photon. The science includes light emission, transmission, deflection, amplification and detection by optical components and instruments, lasers and other light sources, fiber optics, electro-optical instrumentation, related hardware and electronics, and sophisticated systems. The range of applications of photonics extends from energy generation to detection to communications and...
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