Solar Acquisition Aims to Commercialize Concentrator

Between a proposal for the Gillette company to be scooped up by Procter & Gamble and AT&T to likely to be gobbled up by its former Baby Bell spinoff, business is clearly in a renewed phase of mergers and acquisitions. But why should all the giant companies play the game when there’s plenty to be mixed up in the solar energy industry?

In an admittedly smaller deal, Energy Innovations (EI) announced it has acquired San Francisco-based, Prevalent Power. EI has been focused on the development of a low-cost solar photovoltaic (PV) concentrator system while Prevalent Power is a well known Bay-Area solar integrator focused on designing and installing solar electric systems of all sizes. The company will continue its operations under a new name, EI Solutions, and Prevalent Power’s CEO, Arno Harris, will become general manager of the new company. “Arno and his team are among the most highly regarded solar power system integrators in California, and they bring enormously valuable hands-on experience to our company,” said Andrew Beebe, president of Energy Innovations. “They bring together the engineering, construction, capital financing, and project management skills needed to deliver today’s large-scale grid-tied renewable energy systems on time and on budget.” In addition to its current business developing traditional flat-panel PV solar projects, the EI Solutions engineering and sales team will manage the initial sales and installations of Energy Innovations’ new rooftop solar system, called the Sunflower. Each Sunflower module is composed of an array of mirrors that track the sun throughout the day and year, concentrating its light onto a small panel of PV cells that generate electricity. “By replacing large amounts of very expensive, silicon-based PV cells with inexpensive mirrors, Energy Innovations expects to drive down the cost of solar electricity by half or more,” said the company in a statement. EI Solutions is currently testing the Sunflower on its own roof in Pasadena and will be rolling out additional test units to sites in different climate zones in the spring. Pending Underwriters Laboratory certification later this year, EI Solutions will begin installing Sunflower systems on customer rooftops in the fourth quarter. “The Sunflower represents a critical step in reducing the cost of solar power to end-user customers, which is key to bringing the industry as a whole into the mainstream,” Harris said. The system is designed to meet the electrical needs of grid-tied, flat-roofed commercial, government and other institutional buildings, the fastest-growing segment of the solar market. After successfully installations of the first systems by EI Solutions, Energy Innovations plans to release the Sunflower to other qualified solar systems integrators in the U.S.
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