Apex leads $47.5m Series C solar round

California-based firm SolFocus has secured funding from venture capital firms including Apex, NEA and NGEN Partners to expand its solar panel manufacturing business. This is the first time Apex has invested in clean technology.

Chicago-based venture capital firm Apex Venture Partners has led a $47.5 million Series C funding round for Californian solar panel manufacturer SolFocus.

This is the first time Apex has invested in the company, but returning investors include US venture firms New Enterprise Associates and NGEN Partners.

SolFocus closed Series A and B funding rounds in September 2007, on $27 million and $25 million respectively. Both funding rounds were led by NEA and included Metasystem Group, NGEN Partners, Yellowstone Capital Partners and others.

SolFocus produces technology designed concentrate sunlight 500 times onto a system of reflective optics to achieve more than 25 percent efficiency using just 1/1000th of the expensive solar cell material used in traditional solar panels. It intends to double its output from 50-megawatts of electricity to 100-megawatts of by the end of 2010.

Apex, which has more than $600 million under management across six funds, usually invests in the software, information technology and communications. This is the firm’s first investment in the clean technology sector.