21 December 2011

Soitec dedicates San Diego North American HQ and manufacturing plant

Soitec of Bernin, France, which makes engineered substrates including silicon-on-insulator (SOI) wafers (as well as III-V epiwafers through its Picogiga International division), has dedicated its new North American solar headquarters and manufacturing plant in San Diego, CA at a ceremony on 16 December.

Picture: Soitec’s chairman & CEO André Jacques Auberton-Hervé speaking at the dedication ceremony.

Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr, provided remarks at the event. Also participating were San Diego mayor Jerry Sanders, San Diego Gas & Electric Company (SDG&E) chairman & CEO Jessie J. Knight Jr and commissioner Timothy Simon of the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), as well as governmental officials and more than 300 community and business leaders.

The factory is located in San Diego to supply more than 300MW in solar projects that will provide electricity to SDG&E. All power purchase agreements (PPAs) have been approved by the CPUC. The new factory will enable a manufacturing capacity of 200MW of Soitec’s fifth generation of Concentrix concentrator photovoltaic (CPV) modules, with the opportunity for future expansion to double the capacity to 400MW per year.

Soitec says that its efficient, durable CPV systems have enabled it to plan for more than 300MW in utility-scale solar power plant projects throughout the Southwest USA, including 155MW in PPAs with SDG&E, approved by the CPUC in November. Also approved on 15 December was a power purchase agreement for up to 150MW for the Imperial Solar Energy Center West project, which is being developed by Tenaska Solar Ventures LLC (an affiliate of independent energy firm Tenaska) also using Soitec’s CPV technology. Tenaska’s CEO Jerry Crouse also attended the San Diego dedication event.

“SDG&E has signed more contracts using CPV technology than any other utility in the world,” reckons Knight. “At the time we began our talks with Soitec, we realized we had a unique opportunity to negotiate not only a good contract for solar energy at prices that competed head-to-head with other technologies, but also to solidify an agreement that would bear fruit for years to come in new local jobs and overall economic benefits,” he adds. “From a reliability and grid stability perspective, this technology is far superior to other typical ground-mounted arrays.”

Soitec has CPV installations on four continents around the world. The firm claims that the technology demonstrates unique cost competitiveness compared to other solar technologies, due largely to its higher production yields at peak times and lower construction and maintenance costs. In addition, its abilities to operate without cooling water, to withstand hot ambient temperatures and to accommodate the dual use of land with minimal environmental impact make it suitable for use throughout the desert southwest USA.

Soitec employs a distributed manufacturing model that locates CPV module factories close to its customers, with the aim of to providing the most efficient and environmentally beneficial power. The distribution model also calls for a large percentage of local content and local job generation.

“Soitec’s new facility will create hundreds of well-paying jobs and build on San Diego’s growing reputation as one of the world’s leading clean-technology clusters,” comments Sanders. “San Diego’s collaborative business community will continue to work with Soitec to ensure the company’s success and prosperity,” he adds.

“The expansion of clean energy businesses is a direct result of legislation mandating that one-third of California’s electricity come from renewable sources by 2020,” notes Governor Brown.

Tags: Soitec CPV modules

Visit: www.soitec.com

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