16 June 2011

Soitec, Schneider Electric and Masen form first partnership under Mediterranean Solar Plan

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), and global energy management specialist Schneider Electric have signed a memorandum of understanding with Masen (Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy) — the lead player in the Moroccan Solar Plan — on an integrated partnership in Morocco regarding Soitec’s Concentrix concentrating photovoltaic (CPV) technology.

Soitec says that completion of the project will create a CPV segment serving domestic needs and generating exports of electricity and power plants, contributing to a strategy of controlled energy costs over the long term for Morocco and to the achievement of a plan to build a manufacturing facility in the country. The Franco–Moroccan initiative marks the first utility-scale project under the Mediterranean Solar Plan in one of the 43 member countries of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM), a partnership uniting Europe with countries in the Mediterranean Basin.

The memorandum of understanding (MoU) between Soitec, Schneider Electric and Masen is part of the Moroccan Solar Plan (MSP), which is supported jointly by the Moroccan and French governments. It has four key components:

  • R&D, involving joint work on CPV R&D subjects for technology sharing, based in part on the provision of a demonstrator by Soitec.
  • Industrial integration, through the development of a local supply chain for CPV system components (including trackers) and an opportunity analysis on setting up a CPV modules assembling factory in Morocco.
  • Training, involving the transfer of Soitec’s CPV experise to Masen, and joint analysis by all stakeholders of the feasibility of setting up a Master’s syllabus on the management of renewable energies in partnership with Moroccan universities.
  • Pilot projects, involving two Moroccan CPV pilot projects of 5MW each, with two different generation systems. All or part of the electricity generated will be exported under the MSP.

The two pilot projects (totaling 10MW) will proceed as follows. The first project, scheduled for completion in early 2012, involves the development (on the technology platform at Masen’s Ouarzazate site) of a 5MW demonstration unit twinned with Soitec and Schneider Electric facilities in France. A joint basis for R&D will thus be established, facilitating a strategy of knowledge sharing between the partners. The second project involves the construction of another 5MW section using next-generation modules at a site to be approved by the partners.

“This multi-dimensional pilot partnership on CPV, a promising solar power technology, fits in perfectly with Masen’s vision on integrated development of the Moroccan Solar Plan,” says Masen chairman Mustapha Bakkoury. “This kind of project will undoubtedly be having a positive impact on the sector, and on regional integration, which we’re eager to participate in, alongside organisations like Soitec and Schneider Electric, which share our aims,” he adds. Masen is in charge of carrying out the integrated Moroccan Solar Plan for the development of a minimum capacity of 2000MW by 2020, and for the promotion of all aspects of solar power resources.

“Our technology is in the process of being adopted on a large scale in the San Diego region of the USA, where climate conditions are similar and where our technology has proven to be the best suited to regions with abundant sunshine,” says Soitec’s chairman & CEO André-Jacques Auberton-Hervé. “We are working very closely alongside Masen on roll-out of solar power plants in Morocco and to promote the economic development of the region,” he adds.

“Schneider Electric has a 60-year history of working in Morocco,” notes Schneider Electric’s renewable energies director Laurent Bataille. “We’ll be working jointly with Soitec to address the needs expressed by Masen,” he adds. “Schneider Electric will be harnessing its international expertise in intelligent energy management systems for solar power plants, and its unique know-how in access to renewable energies.”

Soitec says that Concentrix technology has been optimized for high-capacity industrial-scale solar power plants. The technology suits use in areas with high direct normal irradiance (DNI), such as Saharan Africa, southern Africa, the Middle East, Australia, and the Southern and Southwestern USA. Soitec solar plants have already been built in more than ten countries, including the US Sun Belt, where its two-axis sun-tracking system has been delivering record yields.

Schneider Electric’s renewable energies access offering covers needs ranging from electricity generation through to network connection. It includes feasibility studies, power distribution architecture design, the supply of all types of equipment including junction boxes, inverters, prefabricated transformer substations, MV transformer substations, the supervision system and video surveillance, as well as operation and maintenance of the system.

Tags: Soitec Concentrix CPV

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