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29 August 2006


Boeing to provide 600,000 solar cells for renewable energy

The Boeing Company has received a 12-month contract from SolFocus Inc of Palo Alto, CA, USA, a renewable energy company that is developing renewable terrestrial energy alternatives, to provide 600,000 solar concentrator cells.

"Our Spectrolab subsidiary [of Sylmar, CA] has leveraged its expertise in space photovoltaic products to create solar cells with record-breaking efficiencies for Earth-based applications," said Charles Toups, vice president of engineering for Boeing Space and Intelligence Systems.

The cells will be capable of generating more than 10 megawatts of electricity, enough to power about 4000 US homes. With the average solar cell efficiency above 35% at concentration, Spectrolab's concentrator photovoltaic cells generate electricity at a rate that can be more economical than electricity generated from conventional, flat panel photovoltaic systems, the company says.

"Our mission is to deliver reliable solar-generated electricity at wholesale energy prices, and Spectrolab's multi-junction concentrator solar cells are key to making that possible," said Gary D. Conley, CEO of SolFocus. "Spectrolab's cells will be integrated into our upcoming solar concentrator field test program and then into the first phase of active deployments."

A significant advantage of concentrator systems is that fewer solar cells are required to achieve a specific power output, thus replacing large areas of semiconductor materials with relatively inexpensive optics that provide optical concentration. The slightly higher cost of multi-junction cells is offset by the use of fewer cells. Due to the higher efficiency of multi-junction cells used in the concentrator modules, only a small fraction of the cell area is required to generate the same power output compared to crystalline silicon or thin-film, flat-plate modules.

Visit: http://www.boeing.com/ids