Optivolt Raises $8M to Scale Next-Gen Solar

Solar technology that enables self-powered IoT devices, 5G infrastructure, military equipment, robotics and EVs

Optivolt announces that it has closed $8.2M in a seed funding round led by Atlas Innovate. Other participating investors include Social Impact Capital, Pure Ventures, City Light Capital and Peter Relan, initial investor in Discord. With this new round, Optivolt's funding now totals $10.1M.


Performance in shaded conditions is a problem the solar industry has tried to solve for decades. A shadow covering just 1% of today's conventional solar panel reduces power output by 33%, while just 10% shading can render it useless. Optivolt has found the solution, thanks to its patent-pending technology that delivers up to 25x more solar power in shaded environments. Optivolt believes their shade tolerant solar technology enables distributed IoT devices, 5G infrastructure, military equipment, robotics and EVs to run on energy from the sun.

"Roughly every decade there's been a revolution in the solar industry," says Rohit Kalyanpur, Optivolt's founder & Chief Executive Officer. "In the 2000's, the cutting edge of solar was deployed on utility scale solar farms. The 2010's were about solar for residential and commercial rooftops. Now, in the 2020's, Optivolt's technology has unlocked the next wave of applications: 'solar for electric machines'. We're making this future a reality."

Rohit started high school fascinated about generating energy from sunlight, and wanted to understand why solar wasn't being used to power everyday devices. This led to him dropping out of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign's Computer Engineering program to go solve the critical engineering problems limiting the applicability of photovoltaics. Today, his vision is now a reality. After entry into the Techstars accelerator, Forbes 30 Under 30 and receiving the Thiel Fellowship, a two-year-long program that includes a $100,000 grant, Optivolt has developed a full-stack shade tolerant solar platform to power electric machines with sunlight.

"Rohit and his team of top domain experts have developed a solar solution that produces multiples more power than the best solar technologies on the market," says Alain Rothstein, Partner at Atlas Innovate. "What excites us about the technology is that it not only produces dramatic improvement for existing solar applications, but it enables the use of solar in new markets that are in dire need of 'must-work' critical power, such as 5G infrastructure and industrial IoT."

Now headquartered in Silicon Valley, Optivolt has garnered the attention of the mainstream solar industry. Bobby Ram, Optivolt's Chief Operating Officer, was a founding member of SunPower Corporation and oversaw SunPower's global manufacturing operations as Managing Director. Ram was on the management team that took SunPower public at a multibillion dollar valuation in 2005. Jon Burke, who recently joined Optivolt as Vice President of Sales, was previously the Solar Market Segment Head at Henkel Corporation, leading strategy and owning P&L.

Regarding the company's stage, Kalyanpur says "We're already shipping the world's leading shade tolerant solar energy systems to customers. Our products have kept critical devices powered in the field 24/7 for a full year now."

"At SIC we are constantly looking to identify technologies that can save us from global warming and to do that, we need more people like Rohit and his team, who are advancing breakthroughs in solar technology to diminish our dependency on fossil fuels and lower the emission of greenhouse gasses," says Sarah Cone, Founder and Managing Partner of Social Impact Capital.

"Our power grid is becoming increasingly unstable due to the effects of climate change and it's predicted that we'll run out of oil in 41 years at current consumption," says Daniel Kofman, Optivolt's co-founder & CTO. "Optivolt's shade tolerant panels deliver reliable off-grid energy to keep machines & critical infrastructure powered even through the most adverse conditions."

"If you assume the global solar install base was shaded an average of just 1% with a 5% standard deviation, 225 terawatt-hours of energy production was untapped in 2021 due to the limits of today's solar technology." says Kalyanpur. "This represents roughly $29B in electricity generation and 11.2 billion kg of carbon emission offsets that went uncaptured. That's just a conservative estimate, the real figure could be much higher. Optivolt's mission is to accelerate the adoption of solar by enabling performance in shaded environments, taking solar where it has never gone before.

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