Solar cell energy update January 26, 2015, Solar energy efficiencies rise as costs decrease, Private capital investments, Solar cells and inverters improving rapidly

Solar cell energy update January 26, 2015, Solar energy efficiencies rise as costs decrease, Private capital investments, Solar cells and inverters improving rapidly



I have heard experts say that we are within 5 years of vast improvements in solar energy technology so they will become very cost effective and competitive with conventional energy sources.

Perhaps we are closer than that.

I continually hear about efforts from the Germans (no surprise) where they indicate their installations are already cost effective.

There are 2 primary components of a solar installation.

Solar cells, which make up solar panels, and inverters, which convert the DC electricity from the cells into usable AC electricity.

The increasingly more popular type of inverter is grid tie which sends the electricity into the power grid to offset usage and/or generate revenue.

From ARCTERN Ventures.

“Our Story

Two bright entrepreneurs + giant problem = big reward

In a market economy, solving a big problem generates a big reward. We aggressively seek out the most disruptive ideas to solve the biggest problems of the 21st century: climate change and resource scarcity. We are not afraid of early-stage cleantech investing, in fact, we believe the most attractive investment opportunities are early-stage. However, to do a deep dive on hundreds of ideas to select the most promising ventures requires extensive resources. By leveraging our unique relationship with MaRS, one of the largest innovation centres in the world, we are able to comprehensively review hundreds of early-stage cleantech ventures to select game-changing ideas with lowest risk, highest reward profile. We then work closely with the most promising of these ventures to develop and fund a highly focused plan that wrings out the risks and positions the company for market success.

We are entrepreneurs, not passive investors. We’ve lived it. We like to roll up our sleeves and get involved. As active board members, we passionately support the entrepreneurs in building management teams, developing strong commercial opportunity pipelines, and forging global partnerships.”


“9th January 2015

2015: Solar’s Rise, Oil’s Demise

Oil prices have dominated the energy news in the later half of 2014, particularly here in Canada where, in recent decades, we have unfortunately become more dependent on volatile and uncertain oil revenues. This story has overshadowed solar’s quiet but very successful struggle against fossil fuel based electricity generation.

We are at the beginning of a decades long overhaul of the global energy sector that will see solar come to dominate global electricity generation (and likely transport fuel through low cost production of hydrogen for fuel cells). This isn’t just my opinion, its a prediction by one of the most conservative energy agencies on this small planet, the International Energy Agency (IEA), which predicts solar will be the largest source of electricity globally by 2050. That’s up from less than a quarter of 1% today.

The price of solar dropped 12-19% in 2013/2014 and this years price drop will be a near repeat (NREL). Solar is on track to be as cheap or cheaper than average electricity price in 47 US states by 2016, according to Deutsche Bank. This is without any radical technology breakthroughs being commercialized! Just imagine the potential in a few years with some of the breakthrough innovations showing promise (including two of our portfolio companies, Morgan Solar and Sparq Systems). Presently, the Fraunhofer Institute in Germany has solar cells with more than double the efficiency (46%) of current commercial PV solar modules, however, there are surely cheaper, more efficient ideas that will emerge from the labs and garages around the world.

Solar and oil are on on very different trajectories: solar getting cheaper each month – driven by unlimited human ingenuity; and oil (extraction) getting more expensive – driven by the realities of finding and recovering a limited resource.

We’re making our bet on human ingenuity. Start shifting your assets to the renewable energy economy before they get stranded.”

“20th October 2014

SPARQ Systems Secures $11 million to Launch Next Generation Microinverter

San Francisco and Toronto, Oct. 20, 2014 – SPARQ Systems today announced $11 million in funding led by ArcTern Ventures, a Toronto-based cleantech venture capital firm, and Jones, Gable, and Co., a full service investment dealer based in Toronto. SPARQ Systems’ technology converts power produced from solar panels into electricity that can be used by the grid.

“This funding will launch our next generation uQuad microinverter, resetting the bar for residential solar systems,” said Dr. Praveen Jain, Chairman and Chief Technology Officer of SPARQ and Canadian federal research chair in power electronics. “We saw an opportunity to take a completely different approach in microinverter design using ideas from the power electronics, aerospace, and telecom fields. The result is the next generation in microinverters.”

SPARQ System’s uQuad is the world’s first 4-in-1, 1,000-Watt residential microinverter that independently optimizes power from up to four solar modules. The uQuad is also the first commercially available ‘smart’ microinverter, with full reactive power control as well as film capacitors to ensure it lasts as long as the solar modules – 25 years or more.

“We spend a lot of time looking at groundbreaking solar technologies and in SPARQ we saw a truly unique advantage over traditional microinverters,” said Murray McCaig, Managing Partner at ArcTern Ventures. “The SPARQ team has done a superb job of translating innovative technology into a better product for solar system installers and home owners.””

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