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Perovskite solar maker raises $6M Series A

Apr 20, 2022
Illustration of a stack of solar panels with a currency band

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Tandem PV, a California startup developing a solar panel that pairs the mineral perovskite with traditional silicon, has raised an initial $6 million in a Series A that will see a second closing within the next 90 days, co-founder and CEO Colin Bailie tells Axios.

Why it matters: Tandem PV says that coating typical solar photovoltaic panels with perovskite can make them 50% more efficient while driving down production costs by nearly a third.

The details: The financing round was led by Bioeconomy Capital, an early-stage venture capital firm.

  • An international solar manufacturer and a U.S. utility also participated, Tandem says.

Driving the news: Solar photovoltaic panels typically rely on silicon because the material absorbs both visible and infrared light, Bailie explains.

  • Perovskite, though, is more efficient at turning visible light into electricity.

What they’re doing: Rather than make a solar panel entirely out of perovskite, Tandem is instead proposing that its perovskite material can go on top of a silicon panel — either an existing panel that’s already installed, or one that the company itself will pair.

  • “Our thesis is that silicon is here to stay in the solar industry,” Bailie says. “One of the first lessons learned from the cleantech wave in the last decade: Perovskite went toe-to-toe with silicon coming out of Asia, and silicon got down the cost curve faster.”
  • The design’s savings don't come from displacing any silicon, but instead reducing the amount of silver that’s typically used in a solar panel.

Yes, but: Perovskite material remains relatively unproven outside the lab — and traditional silicon solar panels have seen costs continue to fall.

  • Durability remains an open question. “There are legitimate concerns there,” Bailie says.

What’s next: The company says the Series A will support the construction of a pilot manufacturing facility in San Jose. The company aims to deliver pilot products by the end of 2023.

  • The company’s “beachhead market” will be residential rooftop solar, Bailie tells Axios.
  • “We’ll have to work down the scaling cost curve and equipment standardization cost curve and supply chain cost curves,” he says.
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