Austin, Texas-based solar startup HelioVolt announced that it has reached 12.2 percent efficiency with its copper indium gallium selenide (or CIGS) solar cells, which are ideal for built-in PV applications. This is getting ever so closer to the 15 to 20% range of most crystalline based PV efficiencies.
HelioVolt's "secret weapon" is its manufacturing process, dubbed FASST™. According to the company's website, FASST™ is "the fastest and most cost-effective technology for printing thin-film CIGS on the market today[,]10 to 100 times faster than current processes."
Elsewhere, solar thermal company BrightSource Energy has shored up an additional $115 million in Series C financing. Investors included Google.org, VantagePoint Venture Partners, BP Alternative Energy, Statoil Hydro Venture, and Cargill subsidiary Black River. Existing investors DBL Investors, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, and Chevron Technology Ventures also participated.
BrightSource's "distributed power tower" technology uses an array of mirrors or lenses known as "heliostats" that concentrate sunlight onto a liquid housed in a "solar boiler." The heated liquid in turn makes steam that turns an electricity turbine. For more on BrightSource's technology, go here. As a testament to BrightSource's technology, California utility Pacific Gas and Electric Company recently signed a contract with BrightSource for up to 900 megawatts (MW) of solar thermal power.