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FTL Solar gets funds for power-generating buildings

The growing acceptance of thin-film solar cells opens up possibilities for structures that make their own electricity, like military posts or remote medical stations.

FTL Solar on Wednesday announced it has raised capital to make flexible solar cells for buildings that generate electricity.

The company envisions that its structures, called PowerMods, can be used as battery-charging stations, parking lot canopies, disaster relief shelters, remote medical stations, and for military bases.

Flexible solar cells used to build power-generating buildings. FTL Solar

The company said that Terra Firma Capital Group, the Josh Mailman Foundation, and individual investors completed the first phase of a planned $50 million funding it expects to finish by the end of the year. It was also awarded a $200,000 matching grant from the New York State Energy Research Development Authority.

FTL Solar has very sparse information available on its Web site and didn't respond to a request for more information. But in a press release, it said that its cells will be aimed at both military and commercial clients.

"Our defense and corporate clients can adapt our power generating units to almost every task, from small installations which can power residential needs, charge laptops, cell phones, power water purification and sanitation systems, to large-scale megawatt-generating solar farms," said Tony Saxton, CEO of FTL, in a statement.

Flexible solar cells are commercially competitive with traditional silicon cells on price. So far, companies like First Solar, Nanosolar, and Heliovolt are planning on first making cells for flat solar panels.

But because these thin-film cells are flexible, they can be used for building-integrated photovoltaics, where roofing material, siding, or architectural glass can generate electricity.

Prometheus Institute President Travis Bradford at a Greentech Media solar event last week forecast that thin-film cells will jump in production from 1 gigawatt this year to 9 gigawatts in 2012.