Hanwha, ESB Back TenKsolar’s Systems for Boosting Solar Power

South Korean conglomerate Hanwha Corp. and ESB Novusmodus LP, a fund backed by Irish state utility Electricity Supply Board, led a $15.5 million Series B investment in closely held TenKsolar Inc.

Hanwha, which owns a controlling stake in photovoltaic manufacturer Hanwha SolarOne Co., will help TenKsolar sell solar panels, it said today in a statement.

The company, based in Minneapolis, has developed racking and reflector systems that are incorporated with conventional solar cells and sold as a package that boosts energy production, according to TenKsolar Chief Executive Officer Joel Cannon.

Hanwha plans to sell TenKsolar’s products in Japan, and both companies are “making plans to roll out joint marketing in other markets as well,” Cannon said today by telephone.

The cells in conventional solar panels are strung in series, meaning the total output drops if a single cell is damaged or isn’t producing optimally, Cannon said. The company builds its modules in such a way that each cell produces power independently, which also enables reflectors to be used to boost output, he said. Using reflected light with conventional solar panels typically isn’t allowed under warranty due to fire risk, Cannon said.

Cannon wouldn’t say how much more his company’s panels sell for than competing products.

“We get this tremendous performance gain because you don’t have any cell dependencies inside the module, and then when you add the reflector you get this energy gain,” Cannon said. “It’s a truly revolutionary system.”

The company has used “a lot” of cells from Hanwha, though it also has suppliers in Taiwan and the U.S., including Suniva Inc., Cannon said.

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