Skyline Solar, a Silicon Valley start-up founded by SolFocus veteran Bob McDonald, unveiled its low-cost, high-efficiency High Gain Solar Arrays (HGS) this morning. The two-year-old company’s HGS, expected to be released later this year, combines the durability of silicon solar cells with thin-film solar’s low cost.
Skyline’s HGS system uses single-axis tracking and metallic reflector racks that concentrate light onto strips of monocrystalline silicon cells. According to McDonald, the HGS maintains a low cost by using components already available at a high volume (silicon cells and aluminum) in the right proportions. McDonald claims that Skyline’s design can generate 10 times more energy per gram of silicon versus flat solar panels–all while using less than half the amount of parts compared to similar systems.
You probably won’t see a Skyline system on your neighbor’s roof–the technology is meant strictly for medium to large scale systems.
The company, one of only six to receive a $3 million Department of Energy grant for solar photovoltaic research, has already raised $24.6 million in funds from investors last fall and constructed a 24-kilowatt demonstration plant in San Jose, California with funding from the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA). Skyline has also completed its first customer system, but the company is waiting to release details until later this month. Going from Series A financing to the installation of a customer system in eight months? Not too shabby.
Still, Skyline has yet to prove its technology at utility scale. If it can prove its worth, expect the company to snag a big piece of the growing midsize solar installation pie. But Skyline will still have to prove its mettle against other concentrating photovoltaic start-ups including SolFocus, Amonix, and Sol3g.