Solar panels can share a problem with Christmas tree lights. If one panel in an array stops working–or pumps out less electricity because of shade, dirt or bird droppings–the results can hurt the performance of other panels that are strung together.

Or so says Tigo Energy, a startup that is tackling the issue and is receiving more money to help that effort.

Tigo, based in Los Gatos, Calif., on Tuesday plans to announce that is receiving $10 million in additional equity capital from Generation Investment Management, an investment firm founded in 2004 by former vice president Al Gore and former Goldman Sachs executive David Blood. The company has also lined up a $10 million credit line secured by its accounts receivable. Tigo says the latest infusion brings the capital it has raised to date to nearly $50 million.

The closely held company, which has 70 employees, has been selling circuitry that can be integrated with new panels or retrofitted with existing ones. Tigo says the products let users track the performance of individual panels and adapt to disruptions, boosting the total performance of an array of panels by up to 20%–without taking any physical action, like replacing or cleaning a panel.

Tigo’s leaders include Sam Arditi, a six-year Intel veteran who is Tigo’s CEO, and Jeffrey Krisa, who worked 17 years at the same chip giant. Just like Intel chips helped provide calculating power for computers and other products, “we are trying to take solar panels and make them smart panels,” Arditi says.

source: blogs.wsj