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Soitec completes 1.5MW CPV plant in California

11 Jul 2013

San Bernadino installation is the largest CPV power plant in the state.

Semiconductor materials and concentrated photovoltaics (CPV) firm Soitec used the Intersolar North America Conference in San Francisco to announce that it had completed a 1.5 MW solar facility in the southern reaches of California.

Energy generated by the Newberry Solar 1 project in San Bernardino County, east of Los Angeles, will be sold to Southern California Edison under a 20-year power purchase agreement.

According to Soitec, the plant represents the state's largest (CPV) installation, and features the company’s most advanced and efficient module technology, manufactured in nearby San Diego.

Gaetan Borgers, executive vice president of Soitec’s Solar Energy Division, said: “This represents a major milestone for Soitec in establishing its newest generation of CPV technology and a critical step in our ambitious deployment plans in the region.”

Borgers says that the new San Diego manufacturing facility now has a production capacity of 280 MW (peak), while the firm claims to have a worldwide pipeline of solar power plant projects now totaling hundreds of megawatts.

“We’re very happy to show that our new product is now shipping and can be installed and operational in a very short time frame,” he added.

Newberry Solar 1 connects directly to Southern California Edison’s distribution network, and the reliably sunny location is expected to provide enough electrical power for approximately 500 homes in southern California.

The facility features the fifth generation of Soitec’s CPV systems, known as “CX-S530”. With 12 large modules comprising a total area of more than 100 square meters, just one of those systems generates power at a maximum capacity of 28 kW.

Thanks to the tiny but high-efficiency multi-junction cells at the heart of each concentrator module, the system is said to deliver a conversion efficiency of 30 per cent – around twice the typical efficiency of conventional PV panels.

Soitec’s new San Diego manufacturing site, built at significant expense during a period of turmoil for both the wider PV industry and CPV specialists, features fully automated assembly lines and is currently targeted to reach its full capacity by October. At that point, Soitec is set to become the third largest solar module manufacturer in the US.

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