Green

MiaSole reportedly raises $125M for solar, IPO question hangs

Thin-film solar panel maker MiaSole has reportedly raised $125 million in sixth round of equity financing.

The round values the company at less than half it was in 2008, dropping from a $1.2 billion pre-money valuation in 2008 to a $550 million valuation today, according to a source cited by VentureWire.

The company has been said to be preparing for an IPO this year (and was last reported to be looking to raise $100 million, so if this report is correct, it beat that goal). It was also recently sued in a patent infringement suit. MiaSole’s investors include Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, VantagePoint, and Firelake Capital Management.

Silicon Valley solar panel companies had a buoyant period of investor interest around 2008, when companies like Solyndra, MiaSole and NanoSolar were able to raise hundreds of millions of dollars. Times have since gotten tougher. Solyndra shut down its first factory ahead of schedule in order to cut costs. Some solar companies (not all venture-backed) like Evergreen, Tessera and SpectraWatt have been forced to layoff workers and shut down projects and plants, and others, like Applied Materials and Suntech’s thin-film lines, were closed entirely.

MiaSole’s ability to raise this much in this environment is certainly a good sign, and even the lowered valuation is still a good one. The company recently reported reaching a bar-setting CIGS efficiency rate of 15.7 percent. And despite some struggles in solar, solar companies in thin-film and the CIGS technology that MiaSole makes have seen a lot of good news recently, with Stion, SoloPower and AQT Solar all announcing plans to build solar factories.

Makers of CIGS panels, named for their ingredients of copper, indium, gallium, and selenide, are expected to cut costs drastically and improve efficiency in the next few years, bringing it closer to the efficiency rates of the dominant (and currently Chinese-dominated) crystalline silicon technology. Its customers include SolarCity, Wal-Mart, Chevron, and Juwi.