Cash-Strapped Ascent Solar Raises $6M to Continue Operations

6/4/14Follow @MichaelXBD

Ascent Solar Technologies, a Thornton, CO-based manufacturer of thin-film photovoltaic modules, recently raised $6 million that will help the cash-strapped company continue operations, according to recent SEC filings.

Ascent Solar (NASDAQ: ASTI) was founded in 2005 and manufactures copper-indium-gallium-selenium (CIGS) photovoltaic modules on flexible and lightweight plastic films. The company believes the modules could succeed in a number of markets, including consumer electronics, transportation, and defense.

Ironridge Technology, a division of Ironridge Global Partners, made the investment, according to a filing submitted last week. The funding came in two $3 million tranches, with Ascent Solar receiving the first tranche in April and the second in May.

The round is the second time Ascent Solar has turned to Ironridge for investment. Ascent Solar announced in February that it had raised $10 million from Ironridge, which specializes in investing in what it calls cash-constrained, micro-cap public companies, according to its website.

That’s an unfortunately apt description of Ascent Solar, which as of March 31 had cash and equivalents of $1.6 million, according to a recent SEC filing. In its last fiscal year, which ended Dec. 31, Ascent Solar reported a net loss applicable to common shareholders of $36 million with revenue of $1.3 million. The company said it did not expect 2014 revenue to cover its operating costs for the year.

When the market opened Wednesday, Ascent Solar’s shares traded at 38 cents and the company had a market capitalization of $37 million.

Still, the company has managed to survive long after other thin-film solar companies such as Colorado-based Abound Solar have gone bankrupt. General Electric also backed out of the market. Last year GE killed a plan to build what would have been the largest thin-film solar-panel factory in the U.S. in Colorado.

Ascent Solar recently announced it has developed a solar-powered drone aircraft with Silent Falcon UAS Technologies, which is based in Albuquerque, NM. Ascent’s thin-film modules are integrated into the aircraft’s wings.

Ascent Solar’s main focus is on consumer products under its EnerPlex product line. Products include smartphone cases with solar panels, small portable solar panels that can be used while camping, and backpacks with lightweight integrated panels.

Last year the company announced a deal with the Chinese city of Suqian that will help it build a new factory. Suqian is putting up about $32.5 million to develop the factory.

Ascent Solar has a 138,000-square-foot manufacturing and office facility in Thornton and as of Dec. 31 had 114 full-time employees.

Michael Davidson is the editor of Xconomy Boulder/Denver. He covers startups, venture capital, clean tech, energy, aerospace, telecoms, and whatever else happens above 5,280 feet. Contact him at mdavidson@xconomy.com. Follow @MichaelXBD

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