Researcher plans to build solar farms in N.C.

RALEIGH – Solar technology startup 510nano is closing in on a deal to buy land in Northampton County for a solar farm the company says will demonstrate its technology to generate power from the sun in a new way.

Gary Brown, economic development director for Northampton County, says 510nano and the county have reached a memorandum of understanding for the company to buy 25 acres for $210,000. Northampton County is about 100 miles northeast of Raleigh.

Scientist and entrepreneur Reginald Parker, CEO of and the force behind 510nano, says he plans to open the solar farm in two to three months. Parker previously was CTO of Austin, Texas, nanotechnology company Nanotailor and also has worked for Boston Consulting Group and Rohm and Haas.

So far, 510nano is backed by angel investors, friends and family, and founder’s equity. Parker says 510nano is seeking a “significant investment” of up to $20 million, with the exact amount depending on how much equity the company wants to turn over to venture capitalists.

Investors are showing increasing interest in “clean technology,” according to a MoneyTree report from Pricewaterhouse Coopers and the National Venture Capital Association. The second quarter report shows $1.5 billion in clean technology investments. A year ago, just $274 million was invested in clean technology.

Although 510nano was incorporated in Durham and recently moved most of its operations to Washington, D.C., Parker says the company’s solar farms – he has two on the drawing boards – will be in North Carolina. He says 510nano’s Washington, D.C., office puts the company closer to a larger number of venture capitalists than he would have access to in the Triangle.

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