Solexel Raises $25M for Silicon Gas-Based Solar Panels

Solexel Inc., a closely held U.S. solar-panel maker that uses silicon gas to manufacture its wafers, received $25 million to build a pilot plant in California, according to an executive.

New investor Gentry Venture Partners led the financing, which is the first close of Solexel’s Series C round, Mark Kerstens, the company’s chief sales and marketing officer, said today by telephone. SunPower Corp. (SPWR), the U.S. solar-panel maker that’s 66 percent-owned by Total SA (FP), also was a new investor and participated with existing backers Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Technology Partners and DAG Ventures LLC, he said.

The pilot is intended to test Solexel’s manufacturing process with larger equipment that would be used in a factory planned in Malaysia, according to Kerstens…