Iberdrola Creeps Into Solar Technology
Oct 9, 2009 - Jennifer Kho - Green
The renewable energy venture arm of Iberdrola, the
big Spanish utility, has made a small investment in
a Toronto photovoltaic solar company — a sign that
the company is stepping up its role in developing,
and not just deploying, renewable-energy technologies
beyond wind power.
Morgan Solar, a developer of acrylic solar concentrators,
plans to announce Friday that it has raised $4.7 million
in its first round of equity funding from Inversiones
Financieras Perseo, Iberdrola Renewable’s venture
initiative, as well as the New Ventures Group, the
venture subsidiary of the plastics manufacturer Nypro,
and the investment-management firm Turnstone Capital
Management, which led the round.
The financing represents a first portion on the way
to a larger round of up to $8.5 million, said Nicolas
Morgan, vice president of business development and
marketing for Morgan Solar. The company, which previously
raised about $1.5 million in seed funding and noncash
contributions, said last year that it was seeking
$10 million to $20 million.
Government funding, as well as reduced costs, led
the company to seek less, Morgan said.
Morgan Solar plans to use the round to put together
its first assembly in Toronto, install several test
sites and ship its first commercial panels in 2010,
after which it hopes to raise a second round of financing
to build additional assemblies.
The company claims its panels will generate more
electricity than conventional silicon-based solar
panels – with an expected 25 to 30 percent conversion
efficiency, compared to silicon-based panels that
top out at 19.3 percent today – and will cost less,
with a price competitive with thin-film solar panels.
While the financing isn’t huge, it’s significant
that Morgan Solar won support from Iberdrola. The
company is one of the world’s largest wind-energy
owners and also is developing big solar projects,
making it a major potential customer for Morgan Solar.
Iberdrola has been aggressively expanding its renewable-energy
business in North America, buying up the Energy East
Corporation last year and planning at least eight
wind projects in the United States approved for stimulus
financing. The company said in May that it planned
to invest $8 billion in American renewable energy,
including mostly – but not all – wind power, and in
September said it would further increase its spending
in the United States on wind.