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Nanosolar keeps solar interesting

nanosolar.jpgSolar start-up Nanosolar is a high-risk play, and it has many skeptics -- partly because it has kept so secretive about what its doing. Basically it's a solar cell foil that you can spread over roofs, parking lots, etc. Yet the company has just announced some serious executive hires, and some product rollout plans that will make it very interesting to watch. It is one of a handful of solar start-ups engaged in the tricky business of thin-film technology -- a refreshing example of Silicon Valley (Palo Alto) company engaged in this cutting-edge technology amid much news lately about how Europe is surging ahead of us.

See green VC blogger, Rob Day, on this here, and here. To summarize, Silicon-based solar power has so far fueled the industry's current rapid growth, but now some investors are gambling that nanotech-based thin-film solar will be the next big wave, for cost and other reasons...

So back to NanoSolar. Chief Executive Martin Roscheisen tells us the company is doing some initial customer deployments later this year at three sites in California -- "we have agreements for these in place and the early test feedback has been overwhelmingly positive."

When we talked with Martin a while back for this story, and talked with others in the industry, we came away thinking Nanosolar was a long shot. As we mention there, Miasole, another local cutting-edge solar company, is taking a safer path, and some still think its odds are better. And another start-up Konarka, keeps making announcements. But it'd be great if Nanosolar pulls through. Stay tuned...

UPDATE: And there's this announcement of another solar related patent from Palo Alto's Nanosys, yet another start-up we failed to mention.

UPDATE II: We've slightly edited the wording above, to reflect that Nanosolar's technology is a foil, and and fact that skepticism comes in part because Nanosolar has been secretive and no one really knows exactly what it is doing.


You fail to mention Evergreen Solar since they are a Massachusetts company. A well-informed source says that Evergreen is the solar start-up to watch.

Alison Chaiken on May 7, 2005 11:21 PM
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Alison, did your source explain "why" it is the solar start-up to watch? I've read up on the sector, I've sat down with several these CEOs for an hour and talked about their technology, and checked with solar installers, and still don't have foggiest about who's got the best answer. There's so many moving parts, unknowns, etc. Though things will get interesting second half of this year, when the genies are supposedly start coming out of their bottles...

matt marshall on May 8, 2005 4:50 PM
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This solar stuff is mostly a hoax. The energy density of solar is too low and the expense too high for it to be anything more than a fringe technology, and even that fringe will be dominated by bigger players like BP and Kyocera. However, for VC's the terms nano and solar together are an irresistible combination, and they will likely be able to convince the even greater fools in the general public to pay a super high price for these worthless companies.

David on August 15, 2005 1:37 AM
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