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Solar-cell maker Suniva hauls in $50 million

Its manufacturing process and improved polysilicon efficiency will produce grid-parity pricing within a few years, start-up Suniva claims.

Atlanta-based Suniva said on Tuesday that it has raised $50 million to commercialize its solar-cell technology, which it says will be as cheap as conventional electricity.

Investors are New Enterprise Associations and H.I.G. Ventures, according to the company's Web site.

Suniva has licensed technology from Georgia Tech's University Center of Excellence in Photovoltaics (UCEP) to make very thin solar cells--less than 100 microns.

Using monocrystalline silicon, it said it can improve the efficiency of cells to about 20 percent, which is the high range of traditional panels. SunPower has a panel with 22 percent efficiency.

Its manufacturing process is efficient as well. The company told VentureBeat that a staff of 40 people could man its operations for round-the-clock production.

The venture round will be used to build a manufacturing facility in the Atlanta area, the company told the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

Solar-technology companies, one of the hottest areas of green-technology investing, continue to attract the funding.

The surge in interest in solar power has pushed up the price of silicon, spurring investments in alternative materials and novel manufacturing techniques.