California solar outfit Solyndra files to go public

The start-up, which secured a large loan from DOE to make its solar arrays for commercial buildings, looks to raise $300 million to fund expansion of second factory.

In a sign of optimism about the stock market's reception to clean energy start-ups, California solar company Solyndra on Friday filed documents to go public.

The Fremont, Calif.-based company said it plans to raise $300 million in a public stock offering to expand into a market it projects to grow at 34 percent annually.

Four-year-old Solyndra makes a very specialized solar module designed for flat commercial rooftops. The system, which looks like long rows of black tubes, uses flexible thin-film solar cells shaped as a half cylinder to generate electricity from sunlight. The shape increases the amount of captured light while providing cooling from the air.

Solyndra's rooftop solar arrays are made up of hundreds of tube-shaped solar cells. Solyndra

The company received a $535 million loan from the Department of Energy's loan guarantee program earlier this year, which it used to open a manufacturing facility in California. That loan, authorized in the 2007 Energy Act, was the first that the incoming DOE had given after a four-year backlog of applications.

Solyndra said it intends to use the proceeds from a public stock offering to finance the expansion of its second fabrication unit. It has also applied for a second loan guarantee for $469 million from the DOE in September, it said.

Billions of venture capital money has been put into green technology companies, but there have been few successful stock market offerings that have rewarded early investors and fueled further growth.

Earlier this year, Watertown, Mass.-based battery company A123 Systems went public and its stock has largely maintained its initial rise. That successful offering was seen as a sign that investors are interested in the potential for energy technology companies despite the economic downturn.

In its S-1 documents, Solyndra indicated that it had revenue of over $174 million and a net loss of nearly $120 million for the nine months of 2009. In the past several weeks, Solyndra announced distribution agreements with companies outside the U.S.

 

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