Stion raises $15M, saying its solar technology won't need subsidies

Venture Beat
By Matt Marshall

June 26, 2007

Stion is one of the now dozens of companies saying it is developing a more efficient solar power technology.

The Silicon Valley company (Menlo Park, Calif.) has raised $15 million in a second round of financing, saying its new material (the company won't disclose which material it is) for manufacturing cells and modules will have a lower installation cost than all its competitors. Significantly, the company says it will be able to market its product without public subsidies, which so far have been required to prop up the solar industry.

While its material will be as cheap to make as the new materials being used by other companies, such as CIGS and Telluride, it will be more efficient than those others at converting sun to power, it said. (See our past coverage on the problems plaguing existing start-ups). It uses a so-called “thin-film” technology that several other companies also use. Chet Farris, the company's chief executive, said its efficiency will be 25 to 30 percent, which is notable because it is much higher than the efficiency of silicon solar cell technologies produced by existing public companies like SunPower. Stion will produce both the cells and the modules (panels).

We previously wrote about Stion here, when it went by former name NStructures.

Farris said his goal is to provide electricity at a ten to twenty cents per kilowatt hour, or at an installed cost of $3/watt — which would be competitive with today's utility electricity rates. Half of the $3 cost would come from installation costs, and the other half from the actual cost of the module technology.

There's a big catch: The company will only finish development in 2009, and build a factory by 2010.

The financing was led by Lightspeed Venture Partners, and included General Catalyst Partners and existing backers Khosla Ventures, Braemar Energy Ventures and Moser Baer Photovoltaic.