Here’s a roundup of the latest action in solar power:
Bio-solar cells — Standard solar cells, based on silicon, convert sunlight into electrical current, but are expensive to make and need to be used for several years to cover their construction costs. So Shuguang Zhang and colleagues at the Laboratory of Molecular Self Assembly at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology want to use biologically-derived molecules to harvest light instead. Their plan is to isolate light-harvesting molecules called chlorophyll from extremophile bacteria. But it’s early days: Lots of questions remain , for example, the cost and efficiency of the process, but Zhang has filed a patent nonetheless.
Sierra Nevada Solar raises $4.5M — There’s very little info on this Sacramento, Calif. solar energy startup, including no Web site, but regulatory filings show it has raised $4.5 million in a first round of funding, according to PE Wire. LinkedIn, however, does provide more info: Jonathan Bonanno, of EarthBright, has invested, as has Ryan Scott, who also has invested in Tesla.
Separately, clean energy continues to draw excess supply of capital — There aren’t enough companies to satisfy soak up the capital investors want to pump into them, according to New Energy Finance. Last year, venture capitalists invested only 73 percent of the total money available to them for clean energy companies, with $2 billion residing in funds and waiting to be invested, the report found (solar is just one subsector within clean energy). The excess supply of capital is driving up valuations, it said. See chart below, which shows investments continuing to grow: