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clean power

Alta Devices has garnered high-profile investors (Kleiner, NEA, GE, Dow Chemical), but it’s been fairly quiet about the technology it’s developed to bring in those investors, as well as its plans for commercializing that tech. But after chatting wi… Continue reading


3 Stealthy Solar Startups You Should Know

by Katie Fehrenbacher on April 6, 2010

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Where’s the innovation in solar these days? The thin film solar companies that raised hundreds of millions of dollars a couple years ago (Nanosolar, Heliovolt, Miasole, Solyndra) are now struggling to reach commercial-scale production, while utility-… Continue reading


It’s a cloudy day for the solar photovoltaic maker SunPower. The company announced its fourth quarter and 2009 year results this afternoon and let loose a triple-whammy of bad news: a drop in fourth quarter profits, a lower-than-expected earnings gui… Continue reading


Solyndra Generated Over $100M in Revenue Last Year

by Katie Fehrenbacher on March 17, 2010

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Solyndra, the thin film solar startup that filed for an IPO back in December has updated its latest financial figures for the fiscal year that ended January 2, 2010 in an amended S-1 filing on Tuesday. According to the document Solyndra brought in revenues of $100.47 million for the fiscal year that ended on January 2, 2010, up from $6.01 million for the fiscal year that ended on January 2, 2009.

Now that is some crazy revenue growth. Solyndra started commercial shipments back in July 2008 and produced 30.5 MW for the fiscal year that ended January 2010, compared to 1.8 MW for the fiscal year that ended January 2009. Solyndra is looking to boost capacity even more, and says in its filing that it is looking to “expand from our current annualized production run rate at Fab 1, which was 54 MW during our fiscal month ended January 2, 2010, to our estimated 110 MW annualized production run rate by the fourth fiscal quarter of 2010.”

At the same time that Solyndra is boosting manufacturing capacity it also seems to be successfully shoring up its losses. The company’s latest 2010 financials show a loss of $172.50 million for fiscal year that ended January 2, 2010, compared to a loss of $232.07 million for the fiscal year that ended January 2, 2009. However, Solyndra still has an accumulated deficit of $557.7 million as of January 2, 2010.

Solyndra’s major solar integrator customers for the fiscal year that ended January 2009 included Geckologic GmbH, and Phoenix Solar AG, and for the fiscal year that ended January 2010 included USE Umwelt Sonne Energie GmbH, Alwitra GmbH, Carlisle Syntec Incorporated, and Sunconnex B.V.

The company, which makes a tubular solar design for rooftops, still faces a lot of challenges in 2010. Of course there’s its pending IPO to worry about. But the company is also looking for a second loan guarantee from the DOE (it already received the first loan guarantee back in May 2009) in the amount of $469 million to partially fund Phase II of its factory production.


Will Weak Greentech IPOs in 2010 Sour the Market?

by Katie Fehrenbacher on March 8, 2010

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Last week at the Wall Street Journal’s ECO:nomics conference, famed venture capitalist Vinod Khosla said one of the things he was worried about was that too many companies “under the green banner,” would go public and “set up a set of expectations,” and “miss them.” In other words, he’s worried that some greentech firms going public in 2010 will not be successful and will sour the market.

It’s a real possibility. The financials of some of the greentech firms aiming for IPOs in 2010, like electric car maker Tesla, bicycle tech developer Fallbrook Technologies, and biocatalyst developer Codexis, aren’t exactly strong.

Tesla has had net losses in each quarter since its inception and has a deficit of $236.4 million. Fallbrook has never been profitable, and reports net losses of more than $11.72 million for the first nine months of 2009. Codexis has seen major net losses for each of the last four years: $18.7 million in the calendar year 2006, $39.0 million in 2007, $45.1 million in 2008, and $15.1 million for the first nine months of 2009 (an accumulated deficit of $154.4 million).

There will be some successful greentech IPOs this year. Silver Spring Networks is expected to file an S-1 in mid-2010 and have a market valuation of $3 billion. Last year the smart grid network maker predicted it would be profitable in the third quarter of 2009 and was expecting revenues of $200 million sometime in 2010.

But if a series of companies, labeled greentech, have particularly poor IPOs then investors could become wary of the whole sector. In the same way that lithium ion battery maker A123Systems inspired greentech companies to hit the public markets behind their successful IPO, a really weak IPO from, say, Tesla, could affect the market for the other firms behind it.

One of the problems is the label itself. As Khosla put it there’s too many companies with poor financials looking at IPOs “under the green banner.” But many of these companies only have a toe in greentech efforts. Biofuels is only one market that Codexis sells into, (contrary to how it’s been portrayed) and the biocatalysts it creates can apply to the pharmaceutical industry, too. Fallbrook is just starting to try to parlay its business of providing continuously variable transmission tech for bicycles to the nascent electric vehicle and small wind turbine market.

Fallbrook, Codexis and Tesla have such wildly different business models and products, that it’s hard to even make comparisons between them. But that’s the problem — investors will make the green connection and weak IPOs could effect the entire spectrum. The real question is if there’s a run of poor IPOs from these firms, how will it affect an IPO from a profitable and revenue-generating company like Silver Spring Networks?

For related articles on GigaOM Pro (subscription required):

Cleantech Was a Market Leader in Q4

In Q3, Uncle Sam Was the Green IT King Maker

Second Quarter 2009 in Review: Green IT

Image courtesy of jtyerse’s photostream Flickr Creative Commons.


Here at the Department of Energy’s first ARPA-E Summit, which was created around the $400 million in grants that the DOE is giving out to early-stage clean power startups, there’s the “haves” and the “have nots.” The “haves” are the for… Continue reading


Clean Power Prospecting: 3TIER Builds Out Online Energy Tool

by Josie Garthwaite on February 15, 2010

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3TIER, a startup based in Seattle, Wash., has a deceptively simple goal: Help accelerate renewable energy projects by providing access to reliable information. To do that, the company has just launched a new online “prospecting” tool, which lets us… Continue reading


From Spandex to Solar: DuPont Poised for PV Growth

by Jennifer Kho on February 14, 2010

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Look at a solar panel and you might think of its manufacturer or installer, or maybe – if you’re a true solar geek – the company that made the cells inside the panel. But when Marc Doyle, global business director for DuPont Photovoltaic Solutions… Continue reading


1BOG Bags $5M for Collective Solar Bargaining

by Josie Garthwaite on February 11, 2010

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Get yer solar — cheap! — by teaming up with neighbors and bargaining collectively with installers. That’s the service offered by San Francisco-based startup One Block Off the Grid, or 1BOG, which has just raised $5 million in its first round of v… Continue reading


Blue light special on solar startups. This morning there’s news of two more acquisitions in the solar space, following on the heels of French nuclear giant Areva on Monday announcing it will snap up solar thermal startup Ausra. Solar panel maker and … Continue reading