Solar startup Nanosolar's CEO departs after eight months

LOS ANGELES, Sept 12 Wed Sep 12, 2012 7:29am EDT

LOS ANGELES, Sept 12 (Reuters) - The chief executive of thin film solar startup Nanosolar Inc has left after less than eight months on the job, the company said on Tuesday.

Eugenia Corrales, who was named CEO in January, left "to pursue other ventures," Nanosolar said. Corrales had previously served as the company's executive vice president of engineering and operations.

Also on Tuesday, the San Jose, California, company appointed Karl Steigele, a former International Business Machines Corp executive, to the newly created post of president and chief operating officer. It also said Executive Chairman Guido Polko will be taking a more active role in managing the company.

Nanosolar is one of a handful of Silicon Valley startups that makes solar panels from copper indium gallium selenide, or CIGS. CIGS technology holds the promise of having cheap production costs combined with cell efficiency near the best of traditional silicon-based solar cells. Solyndra, the bankrupt solar panel maker that received a government loan guarantee, also used CIGS technology.

But CIGS panels have been slower to achieve mass production because of the complicated manufacturing process needed to combine the four materials. In addition, CIGS has seen stiff competition from silicon-based panels, prices on which have plummeted.

In the statement, Polko said Nanosolar was "well positioned" for global growth. The company's investors include Benchmark Capital, Mohr Davidow Ventures, Energy Capital Partners and AES Solar, and it raised $70 million in new capital earlier this year.

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