28 November 2011

Soitec powering UN climate-change conference with South Africa’s first CPV 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 built a concentrator photovoltaic (CPV) power plant near to Durban, South Africa, as the flagship project for the 17th annual Conference of the Parties (COP17) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), being held 28 November to 9 December. The 500kW solar-energy facility, which will power the COP17 global gathering, will be officially inaugurated by South African President Dr Jacob. G. Zuma on 4 December.

Soitec worked closely with South Africa's Department of Water and Environmental Affairs (DEA) and the local eThekwini Municipality to build the CPV solar plant, which feeds into the area’s power-supply grid. The CPV plant was constructed in just one month using the combination of Soitec’s international expertise and the local work force. Group Five, an integrated construction services, materials and infrastructure investment group operating in Africa, was the local construction partner for the project.

“CPV offers South Africa huge potential for its natural resource and climate protection,” says Soitec’s president & CEO AndrĂ©-Jacques Auberton-HervĂ©. “After proving our Concentrix technology’s performance in the region with last year’s installation of a 60kW power plant at the Aquila Private Game Reserve in Touwsrivier, we are proud to continue supporting the country’s young but growing renewable-energy sector,” he adds.

At the entrance to COP17’s Climate Change Response Expo adjacent to the International Conference Centre (ICC), Soitec is displaying a full-size, 10m-high solar panel tracker to give visitors a close-up look at CPV technology. It will be used to charge electric vehicles. Within the exposition, more information is available at Soitec’s stand 101-B, and guided tours of the fully functional solar plant are being offered twice daily from 5 December through 9 December at the installation site in nearby Hazelmere, about 25km north of Durban.

Soitec claims that, with installations around the world, CPV technology has proven to be the most efficient and most environmentally friendly solar power technology. It 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, the firm adds. In addition, the technology’s 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 South Africa, Soitec concludes.

Tags: Soitec CPV modules

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