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3 December 2008


World’s largest CIGS PV array goes live

Global Solar Energy Inc of Tucson, AZ, USA, which manufactures copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS) thin-film photovoltaic (PV) cells for both glass modules and flexible substrates, has begun full operation of what it claims is the largest solar electric array worldwide using CIGS PV technology. The 750kW system at Global Solar’s 100,000 square-foot manufacturing facility in Tucson is the first commercial-scale deployment of the firm's CIGS thin-film PV technology and will help to power its manufacturing plant.

The system is financed, owned and operated by MMA Renewable Ventures LLC, a subsidiary of Municipal Mortgage & Equity LLC that provides renewable energy to businesses, utilities and government. Tucson-based Solon Corp, a subsidiary of Global Solar’s largest customer Solon AG of Berlin, Germany that has just finished ramping up a 60MW large-scale PV module factory, produced and installed the PV modules and designed the array. Covering 310,000 square feet , the system features a ground-mounted solar array that uses 6600 Solon solar modules incorporating Global Solar’s CIGS thin-film solar cells.

“This new solar system solidifies the vitality and longevity of CIGS technology in the thin-film space,” says Global Solar’s president & CEO Mike Gering. “We are proud to be instrumental in this industry first,” he adds, claiming that Global Solar is the only CIGS provider to have its technology powering a commercial-scale solar array.

Global Solar is purchasing the power generated from MMA Renewable Ventures under the terms of a long-term commercial financing agreement. The thin-film PV system will generate more than 1.1 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of renewable electricity annually. The ground-mounted system is expected to offset 30,000 tons of carbon dioxide over its expected 25-year lifetime.

“CIGS technology will contribute to driving down solar energy prices, bringing renewable energy to the masses,” reckons Solon's CEO Olaf Koester. “Solon Corporation’s vision is to help spark the widespread adoption of solar energy in the USA by designing, constructing and maintaining large-scale photovoltaic power plants,” he adds.

“We are constantly looking for ways to deliver affordable energy at scale,” says MMA Renewable Ventures’ CEO Matt Cheney. “Global Solar is a leader in CIGS materials and we value the opportunity to showcase its thin-film technology.”

Through its agreement to purchase the renewable energy credits generated by the array, funding of the project was helped by Tucson Electric Power (TEP), a subsidiary of UniSource Energy Corp of Phoenix, AZ that provides power to about 400,000 customers in southern Arizona. UniSource Energy founded Global Solar in 1996 as a subsidiary, before selling it in April 2006 for $16m to a German venture capital investor (81% owner) and Solon AG (19% owner). The credits will help TEP to pursue goals established under Arizona’s Renewable Energy Standard, which calls on electric utilities to work toward securing 15% of their power from renewable resources by 2015.

“This project helps us build toward the clean energy future we envision for Arizona,” says Philip Dion, VP of legal & environmental services for TEP and UniSource. “Companies such as Global Solar, MMA and Solon exemplify the best and brightest in renewable energy technology,” he adds.

See related items:

Global Solar’s CIGS PV module earns IEC certification

GSE launches thin-film CIGS alternative for silicon module and BIPV manufacturing

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