Solon Signs Deal with VC-Backed Suniva

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – German solar module maker Solon AG (SOOG.DE: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) has signed a $500 million supply contract with U.S. solar cell maker Suniva Inc, the companies said on Wednesday.

The deal, which runs until 2012, is the first customer announcement by privately held Suniva.

In an interview, Suniva Chief Executive John Baumstark said the deal would allow the two companies to collaborate on driving down the cost of solar power, while improving the efficiency of generating electricity from the sun's rays.

Suniva's silicon-based solar cells have a conversion efficiency of more than 18 percent. The company licenses solar cell technology from the Georgia Institute of Technology's University Center of Excellence in Photovoltaics and manufactures its cells in Norcross, Georgia.

Earlier this year, Atlanta-based Suniva received $50 million in funding from venture capital firm New Enterprise Associates, Goldman Sachs Group Inc (GS.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) and others.

Suniva expects to go public at some point.

“We are building the company as if we are taking it public,” Baumstark said, adding that the public markets have not been friendly to initial public offerings lately. (Reporting by Nichola Groom; Editing by Braden Reddall)