ABB to invest $20 million in CPV startup GreenVolt

ABB will become one of GreenVolts key investors following a decision to invest $20 million as part of the solar power startups $35 million Series D funding round.

The Swiss power and automation conglomerate will have access to the California-based company’s solar concentrating photovoltaic systems that use both solar cells and lenses to produce current.

Concentrating sunlight hundreds of times on a powerful cell, GreenVolt said it delivers energy yields that can be up to 40 percent higher than that of traditional panel-based systems. Current solar PV panels made of silicon can convert 20 percent of sunlight it absorbs into electricity on average.

Just last March, ABB agreed to buy a 35 percent stake in Novatec Solar, a company based in Karlsruhe, Germany which uses the same technology. Financial details of the deal were not disclosed, but ABB mentioned that it has an option to acquire 100 percent of the company.

The investment was made through ABB Technology Ventures, ABB’s venture capital arm, joining existing investor Oak Investment Partners.

ABB power systems division head Peter Leupp said GreenVolt’s technology combines performance, fast installation and low production costs.

ABB’s current business is on solar thermal and conventional photovoltaic power plants. ABB Solar Power Solutions, the company’s solar unit, offers an extensive line-up of products for both PV and solar thermal, including inverters, power transmission, tracking systems and complete turnkey projects. It also covers all mainstream solar thermal systems currently on offer today, namely parabolic trough, power towers and stirling solar dish systems.

GreenVolt said it is one the first concentrating PV companies to build its own components that go into their system, including the optics, tracker, inverter and management software. Sourcing each part of the CPV device from different suppliers often present compatibility issues, according to GreenVolt.– Oliver M. Bayani

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