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7 November 2008


SolFocus and EMPE sign $103m deal for 10MW utility-scale PV project

Concentrator photovoltaic (CPV) system maker SolFocus Inc of Mountain View, CA, USA has signed a $103m (€80m) agreement with EMPE Solar to install over 10MW of CPV solar energy projects in several sites across southern Spain by the end of 2010. The project will be the largest deployment of CPV technology in Europe, and will be capable of meeting the domestic energy requirements for a city of about 40,000 residents, says SolFocus (whose European operations are headquartered in Madrid).

SolFocus says that its CPV systems combine GaAs-based solar cells of high efficiency (approaching 40%) - manufactured by Emcore or Spectrolab - with advanced optics to provide high solar energy yields at competitive costs for commercial, industrial, and utility applications. “CPV, with its high energy density and output, is an ideal solution for the Spanish market, providing more clean, reliable energy with a small land footprint and low lifetime cost,” says SolFocus’ CEO & chairman Gary D. Conley. “As we continue to drive down costs towards becoming competitive with fossil fuels, sophisticated partners like EMPE Solar will play a critical role in breaking new ground throughout the Mediterranean,” he adds.

The SolFocus-EMPE deal comes after SolFocus recently completed two utility-scale CPV projects for the Institute of Concentration Photovoltaic Systems (ISFOC) in Spain. SolFocus says that, through completion of its 500kW part of the 3MW ISFOC project, it demonstrated CPV’s ability to scale to aggressive energy production targets while showcasing the overall system reliability and efficiency.

“EMPE seeks only the most innovative solutions to reduce electricity production costs for customers,” comment EMPE Solar partners Eduardo Goicoechea and Sebastian Sagüés. “SolFocus has proven its technology’s value in our region, and we are confident it will enable us to quickly achieve our cost targets for carbon-free energy CPV technology, a rapidly growing disruptive energy technology, is targeted to the high solar resource areas of the world,” they add.

SolFocus says that its CPV system uses readily available, low-cost materials such as glass and aluminium to provide rapid scalability to 100s of megawatts. Using mirrors and advanced reflective optics, SolFocus’ modules concentrate the sun’s rays 500 times onto a small high-efficiency solar cell, resulting in use of a thousandth of the amount of photovoltaic material used in traditional PV systems, the firm claims. Its panels are integrated onto a sun-tracking system, allowing energy production throughout the day, providing delivery to peak demand requirements.

SolFocus reckons that in its first year of operation the 10MW installation will eliminate the generation of 27,000 tons of CO2 emissions that would have resulted from traditional fossil fuel energy generation.

See related items:

SolFocus first to complete ISFOC CPV installation

CPV Consortium launched to steer industry growth in concentrating photovoltaics

SolFocus first CPV systems maker to get CEC approval

SolFocus names ex-Lockheed Martin exec as president

SolFocus installs first solar array for 3MW Spanish CPV project

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