Two innovative solar companies made venture financing news this past week. The Red Herring reported that California-based Tioga Energy launched operations with $10 million in venture financing from NGEN Partners, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Rockport Capital Partner, DFJ Frontier and Kirland Ventures. Tioga Energy's business model is to serve as an intermediary by financi Posting ng, purchasing, installing, owning and operating solar panels while bringing solar power to its customers through 20 year power purchase contracts, thereby reducing the upfront capital costs of solar panels that have made it so prohibitive for prospective solar power consumers. As mentioned before, MMA Renwewable Ventures and SunEdison are other notable companies that engage in this form of third party financing, which will further SolarTech's goal of encouraging solar adoption.
San Diego based Envision Solar has one of the coolest solar array concepts that I've seen in a while--"Solar Groves." According to Rob Day, author of blog Cleantech Investing, Envision raised $600,000 as part of a $2 million Series A round. Partnering with PV module maker Kyocera, architectural firm Tucker Sadler, and construction firm Midwest General, Inc., Envision Solar provides solar shading structures composed of "Solar Trees" from design through construction. A "Solar Tree" consists of a central pole that supports a "canopy" of solar panels, which are designed to be built above cars in parking lots to create shade and generate solar power without encumbering the parking spaces. The first Solar Grove was completed in May 2005 in San Diego at the car park of Kyocera (see picture). Consisting of 25 Solar Trees, the Solar Grove has produced more energy than predicted, about 427,000-kilowatt hours the first year, the equivalent requirement for 68 average homes for a full year.