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Act Solar, provider of technology that increases the output of regular solar panels, is currently in talks with investors to raise $9 million in early-stage capital, according to VentureWire. Based in Santa Clara, Calif., the company makes a wireless device called PowerString, which feeds power back into strings of photovoltaic panels to neutralize problems that result in decreased energy production, like unexpected shade or electrical glitches. Few people realize that a problem with just one panel in a larger system can drop the voltage generated by the whole.

Since its inception in 2006, Act has operated off cash provided by private individuals. Now it’s looking for support from venture and strategic firms. The money will partly go toward its efforts to scale the manufacturing and distribution of PowerString. At its current rate, it is turning out about a thousand of the devices (3 megawatts worth) a month at its Santa Clara facility, VentureWire reports. By the end of 2009, it expects to be making ten times that — and to have sold a total of 20 to 30 megawatts over the course of the year.

By helping the same number of solar panels produce more total power, PowerString could prove incredibly popular during the downturn. Not only could it save customers the cost of installing more panels to hit an energy target, but it could also reduce maintenance costs on existing panels. The company says that, with PowerString, costs per watt can fall as low as $3 to $4, as opposed to the typical $8.

So far, PowerString technology (8 megawatts of it) has been installed by Act’s first and only customer, commercial solar generator Pacific Power Management. Of course, this count doesn’t include the model hooked into company adviser Jigar Shah’s own 22-kilowatt system located at an Oakland, Calif. housing complex.

As a precursor to the anticipated $9 million, Act just nabbed a $750,000 research grant from the California Energy Commission’s Public Interest Energy Research program. It will use this money to install more PowerString devices in solar arrays in the U.S., Europe and Asia.


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