Bloo Solar Inc.: Changing the World Through Innovation

Larry Bawden, CEO of Bloo Solar Inc. (Bloo Solar), believes that his company will revolutionize the solar energy industry. One of the biggest goals in the solar energy industry has been the drive to achieve grid parity – the point at which the means of producing solar energy provides electricity at a price that is equal to or less than the price of purchasing power from the grid. John Farrell, director of the Energy Self-reliant States and Communities program, recently published a study estimating that California will achieve grid parity in 2016 on the large megawatt installation level.
Bawden says Bloo Solar, which is located in El Dorado Hills, Calif., could dramatically contribute to shortening that date when the company’s third-generation solar modules go into full production in 2014. The company’s engineers have developed a patented transformative design called Solar Brush for photovoltaic (PV) panels, which draws upon advances in nanotechnology to create a more efficient solar panel for both residential and larger industrial and utility installations.
Bawden says previous generations of thin-film planar deposits of semiconductors produce peak efficiency during a brief period of the day when the sun’s rays are directly traveling to a site on earth. Bloo Solar products are made from photovoltaic materials that use 90-percent less material than the crystalline silicon-based products, but produce much higher levels of clean, renewable energy from the sun. The ultimate goal in implementing the technology is to allow solar to be one of the lowest cost energy sources available in the world.
Patented Technology Increases Efficiency
The three-dimensional design of the Solar Brush extends the peak efficiency to around three hours on either side of absolute direct sun’s rays, or around six hours a day. Each rod is a single-junction solar cell with a conductive core that converts and channels energy efficiently to a conductive backplane. The rods are micron-sized, about the size of a red blood cell. A 1-centimeter square of Bloo Solar substrate contains 3.9 million of these “bristles.” The layers are even tinier, nano-sized.
The product is innovative and more advanced than current PV technologies. Because of the solar cells’ diminutive size, Solar Brush panels will contain a higher number of solar cells per panel, leading to increased surface area, minimized recombination and superior light trapping, and that will provide the panels with a total power output at least 1.5 to 3 times higher than current PV panels.
The theory and eventual realization of this panel technology was conducted initially by a research team at the University of California’s (UC) Davis campus comprised of students John Argo, Ruxandra Vidu and Brian Argo, alongside Pieter Stroeve, the university’s professor of chemical engineering and material sciences.
“The students had a great idea and they created a company that could develop the product,” reveals Bawden. “But they had no idea on how to raise the capital needed in order to take the company to the marketplace.
That’s when Bawden joined the company. Bawden, who holds a degree in mechanical engineering from Sacramento State University, has an extensive history in the energy industry as the cofounder of Jadoo Power Systems, a hydrogen fuel cell technology company.
Bawden also holds four patents with the U.S. Patent Office. He received the Group Achievement Award from NASA and the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2006 Award for Emerging Markets-Northern California. Bloo Solar is now a work-hard, play-hard environment driven by an insatiable appetite to drive change in the energy sector.
New Location Reflects Company’s Promise to the Industry
The company has expanded considerably from its days at UC Davis; Bloo Solar recently relocated to Class-A office space and the company now employs over 12 employees, each a hands-on contributor committed to innovation, teamwork, open communication and the alignment of goals. “We’re currently backed by several New York-based investment companies and we hope to be fully operational by 2014,” relates Bawden. “Last year alone Bloo Solar raised over $8 million.”
The company’s entry into the renewable energy sector has not gone unnoticed. In November 2011 Bloo Solar was chosen by Grow-California as one of the top 40 “Game Changing” Cleantech Innovators. The California Cleantech “Game Changer of the Year” Awards have been established by Grow-California to annually honor the state’s most innovative Cleantech businesses that are positively impacting California’s Cleantech industry and the state’s economy.
It’s been a desire since the 1960s that the United States would once again be energy independent, but politicians have often relied on increased production of natural gas and drilling for oil to achieve that dream. At current energy production rates the U.S. is projected to achieve energy independence by the year 2020. If Larry Bawden and his team of professionals at Bloo Solar do introduce their innovative product to the market in 2014, it’s feasible that goal might be reached even sooner.