18 June 2012

Soitec awarded $25m for North American CPV module-making facility

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), says that one of its US solar energy subsidiaries has been selected by the US Department of Energy (DOE) to receive a $25m award via SUNPATH (Scaling Up Nascent PV At Home), which aims to increase the USA’s manufacturing competitiveness in the global solar market (falling under the DOE’s SunShot Program). The funds will support the firm’s new North American solar manufacturing facility in San Diego, CA.

Last December, Soitec acquired a 176,000-square-foot manufacturing center on 14.8 acres of land in San Diego to support over 300MW of well advanced projects throughout San Diego and Imperial Counties. The new factory will enable annual manufacturing capacity of 200MW (275MWp) of Soitec's fifth-generation Concentrix concentrator photovoltaic (CPV) modules, and will be the world’s largest CPV manufacturing facility, the firm reckons. Representing an investment of more than $150m, the project is expected to create 450 on-site jobs and more than 1000 indirect jobs at full capacity. Construction is currently underway, and the first phase is scheduled to be operational by fourth-quarter 2012.

“This SUNPATH award will accelerate the production and output of Soitec's first large-scale CPV module manufacturing facility in San Diego,” says Clark Crawford, VP of sales & business development USA. “We are honored by this new partnership with the DOE and their support for CPV deployments in the US represented by this award,” he adds.

“The decision of the DOE to award Soitec with the largest share of the SUNPATH award provides a strong endorsement of our CPV technology,” says Gaetan Borgers, executive VP of Soitec Solar Energy Division. "The SUNPATH award adds support to our view that CPV is best-suited for regions with extremely hot ambient temperatures and dry weather conditions like the American Southwest.”

CPV technology converts sunlight into electricity via concentrator optics and high-efficiency solar cells, offering what is reckoned to be the best design for use in sunny regions, delivering low-cost (reliable, and environmentally friendly solar generated electricity). Soitec's fifth-generation CPV modules, to be manufactured at the San Diego facility, were developed to reduce installation costs while implementing improved system optics to further increase the efficiency levels of the modules. The fifth-generation Concentrix CPV modules provide a module efficiency of 30% (2-3 times the efficiency of conventional PV technology, it is reckoned).

Soitec says that high-volume CPV module production at the San Diego facility will enable it to deliver renewable energy and economic development by expanding its solar power plant customers throughout Southern California and the American Southwest, and ultimately support export opportunities around the Pacific Rim.

The SUNPATH award will be finalized pending completion of contract negotiations with the DOE.

Tags: Soitec CPV

Visit: www.soitec.com

Visit: www1.eere.energy.gov/solar/sunshot

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