Fremont, California's GreenVolts on Wednesday unveiled the solar power market's first completely integrated, turnkey concentrated solar photovoltaic (CPV) system. Aimed at commercial and industrial businesses and power utilities, the GreenVolts' system comes complete with CPV modules, trackers, inverters and energy management software. The integrated design dramatically improves overall system performance, simplifies project engineering and installation, and reduces costs at all stages of the system's life cycle, according to a news release.
“Our complete system approach changes the entire solar experience,” touted GreenVolts' president and CEO David Gudmundson. “With GreenVolts, customers get simplicity, elegance, and precision in a utility-scale solar system that delivers higher performance and richer energy management than anything else in the world.”
GreenVolts also announced the signing of an international sales and distribution agreement with multinational engineering and power equipment giant ABB. ABB is also taking an equity stake in GreenVolts, all of which prompted the Fremont, California-based start-up to raise its profile.
Turnkey CPV: High Peformance, Ease and Simplicity
In an interview with TriplePundit, Gudmundson explained that GreenVolts has been working "under the radar" at customers' sites in the southwest and in the lab for the past nine months or so, tweaking and fine tuning its integrated solar PV power system and ironing out any bugs in its extensive supply chain.
GreenVolts' systems are up and running at a mix of agricultural, municipal, commercial, industrial and utility sites in the Southwest. They're installed and operating in the service territories of Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison and the Imperial Irrigation District in California, Arizona Public Service Co. and Tucson Electric in neighboring Arizona and Public Service of New Mexico.
"Having built numerous solar projects from various solar vendors, we appreciate the fast and efficient installation of the GreenVolts system, which minimizes the possibility of mistakes, thus providing better cost estimates and on-time schedules," said Brian Bothman, vice president, Robert A. Bothman Construction, Inc. "Their approach simplifies everything, from logistics and site engineering, training and installation, to final commissioning."
GreenVolts' CPV modules are 2-3 times more efficient than conventional silicon-based PV or thin-film modules, according to the company. A high-precision, two-axis intelligent tracking system is key to optimal energy conversion throughout the day, while bi-polar, transformerless inverters work with the trackers to maximize electrical output. The entire system can be monitored and managed remotely via the Internet and IP networks via computers and mobile devices using the ISIS (Intelligent Solar Information System) energy management software system.
GreenVolts also announced that Zurich-based ABB is investing $20 million in the company for "a substantial minority stake" as part of a $35 million round of venture capital financing. Along with rights to market, sell and distribute GreenVolts' turnkey CPV system internationally, ABB gains a seat on GreenVolts' board and the rights to its proprietary technology.
“The technology combines simplicity and precision with unmatched performance, fast installation, easy operation and low cost of production,” said Peter Leupp, head of ABB’s Power Systems division. “Our extensive footprint, which covers all key solar markets in the world, will help us to make this technology globally accessible.”
ABB also recently acquired an equity stake in Novatec Solar, a leading provider of Linear Fresnel concentrating solar power technology. ABB's GreenVolts' investment was made through its ABB Technology Ventures venture capital arm in a funding round that also included Oak Investment Partners, which had previously invested in GreenVolts.
"There are two aspects to the partnership with ABB," GreenVolts' CEO Peter Gudmundson told Triple Pundit. "They become a strategic investor and gain a seat on our board of directors. The second is the sales and marketing relationship, with ABB selling and marketing our system. It's pretty exciting for us. We're very proud of our system, but we're at a place now where we can have a global platform."
Lean Organizational Structure Focused on Design, Engineering, Service
As a commercial organization, GreenVolts is completely focused on design, engineering, technical support and service. It doesn't manufacture the integrated CPV systems it designs, instead it relies on a network of close supplier relationships for everything from solar grade silicon ingots and wafer on through to its CPV solar cells and modules and all the other components of the GreenVolts' system. All the system components come together and are assembled at a plant in China.
"We're a US company - management, operations, technical support, engineering. We leverage our partners' capabilities on a global basis whether it's in China or Europe in the same sense as Cisco or Dell," Gudmundson said.
"Our business model is to be an equipment company, so our primary business model is to provide a fully integrated, turnkey solar system to our customers: utilities, IPPs (Independent Power Producers), system integrators and so on. We have a field support team to help get everything fully operational, and we also provide support for the installation company - training programs and so on, but we don't
actually do the installations."
Gudmundson wouldn't offer any financial projections as to where GreenVolts expect to be as a company a year from now, but he did offer the following. "We expect to expand into several international markets and transition to a much higher volume organizational and support structure. We expect to have a much stronger customer base. Next year for us is about the journey as opposed to any particular event. Now, it's really about step-wise scaling."
*Photo courtesy GreenVolts
An experienced, independent journalist, editor and researcher, Andrew has crisscrossed the globe while reporting on sustainability, corporate social responsibility, social and environmental entrepreneurship, renewable energy, energy efficiency and clean technology. He studied geology at CU, Boulder, has an MBA in finance from Pace University, and completed a certificate program in international governance for biodiversity at UN University in Japan.