July 16, 2008
Wakonda Developing New Paradigm in Solar Cell Manufacturing, Raises $9.5 Million in Series A Financing
MEDFORD, Mass., July 16 /PRNewswire/ -- Wakonda Technologies, Inc., a developer of solar photovoltaic (PV) products, today announced it has raised $9.5 million in Series A financing from ATV (Advanced Technology Ventures), General Catalyst Partners, Polaris Venture Partners, Applied Ventures, LLC (the venture capital arm of Applied Materials, Inc.) and the Massachusetts Green Energy Fund.
Wakonda is developing an inexpensive, patent-pending material that enables the production of high performance solar cells. Photovoltaic cells developed for satellites exceed 30 percent efficiency -- well above the efficiency of commercially-available silicon and thin film cells. However, these satellite cells are very costly, as they are produced on expensive single-crystal wafers made from III-V compounds such as gallium arsenide. Wakonda's proprietary technology and process enable a low cost, commercial material to simulate the expensive single crystal III-V wafer. The result is a new paradigm in solar cell manufacturing that could translate into significant cost efficiencies for almost all photovoltaic market applications.
"We are actively working to reduce the cost of solar systems to make solar energy competitive with conventional electric power," said Wakonda Founder and CEO Les Fritzemeier. "We're delighted to have the support of this top-tier group of investors to help us accomplish this goal. Their experience and track records give us additional confidence that we will achieve our commercial market objectives."
Global demand for electric power is expected to exceed supply within the next decade. Sunlight is the earth's most abundant energy source, but historically solar power costs have been substantially more than centralized generation. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) concluded that improved manufacturing processes are the key to cost-effective solar power. Commenting on Wakonda's selection as the 2007 Clean Energy Entrepreneur of the Year, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory's L. Marty Murphy noted that the low manufacturing costs and high efficiencies of Wakonda's approach "could be a step-change for the solar industry."
"In a market filled with innovative ideas, Wakonda's approach for producing low cost, high efficiency solar cells stood out as having breakthough potential," said Bill Wiberg, General Partner, ATV, who co-led the round of financing.
The company has been developing its technology in conjunction with the Rochester Institute of Technology, where Wakonda Co-founder and CTO Ryne Raffaelle, an internationally recognized power technology expert, leads the NanoPower Research Lab, and with Cornell University and the NASA Glenn Research Center. Wakonda CEO Les Fritzemeier spent years at American Superconductor working on products for the electric power industry and Rockwell International working on aerospace power systems. He holds 22 U.S. Patents, a PhD from Columbia University and an MBA from California Lutheran University.
Wakonda has developed an inexpensive, patent-pending material designed to enable the production of high performance solar cells by combining high efficiency solar technology with low cost, roll-to-roll manufacturing processes. The company's solar photovoltaic products are expected to produce more power per unit area at lower costs than state of the art commercial cells. For more information, visit http://www.wakondatech.com/.
Wakonda Technologies, Inc.
CONTACT: Donna von Halle of Advanced Technology Ventures,+1-781-771-4574, [email protected]
Web site: http://www.wakondatech.com/