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Oil company warms to concentrating-solar startup

Morgan Solar secures a $9.8 million investment from Canadian oil and gas distributor Enbridge to commercialize its low-profile, lightweight concentrating-photovoltaic solar collector.

Morgan Solar

Morgan Solar has brought on Canadian oil and gas distributor Enbridge as an investor to commercialize its concentrating-photovoltaic panels.

The Toronto-based company today said that Enbridge has invested $9.8 million as part of a $28.8 million round of funding.

Enbridge's primary business is oil and gas distribution but it has invested in a few solar energy projects that use traditional flat photovoltaic panels. Morgan Solar is the first solar technology it has invested in.

The money will be used to expand manufacturing capacity of Morgan Solar's concentrating-photovoltaic modules and trackers.

The company's core technology is Sun Simba, a solar concentrator made from glass and acrylic that focuses light onto high-end, multi-junction solar cells. The Morgan Solar concentrators are relatively thin and less bulky than competing concentrators. That means they are less prone to wind damage and can be mounted on flat-panel trackers, according to the company.

Concentrating photovoltaics, which are typically used for utility-scale solar projects, concentrate sunlight onto solar cells to boost the power output. Morgan Solar said that its lightweight approach is less expensive than existing high-end systems and can work in moderate to high direct sunlight. The system is modular and able to scale from 10 kilowatts to multi-megawatts, it said.

Enbridge isn't the only oil company to diversify into solar. The most dramatic example is France-based oil giant Total, which paid $1.4 billion for a majority stake in panel manufacturer and solar project developer SunPower.