Semiconductor material company Soitec says one of its U.S. Solar Energy subsidiaries has been selected by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to receive a SunPath award of $25 million to support its new North American solar manufacturing facility in San Diego, California. SunPath, which stands for Scaling Up Nascent PV At Home, seeks to increase America’s manufacturing competitiveness in the global solar market.
Last December, Soitec acquired a 176,000-square-foot manufacturing center on 14.8 acres of land located in San Diego to support over 300 megawatts (MW) of well advanced projects throughout San Diego and Imperial Counties. The new factory will enable a manufacturing capacity of 200 MW (275 MWp) of Soitec’s fifth generation of Concentrix concentrator concentrated solar photovoltaic (CPV) solar modules, and will be the world’s largest CPV manufacturing facility. This major project represents an investment of more than $150 million and is expected to create 450 on-site jobs and more than 1,000 indirect jobs at full capacity. Construction is currently underway, and the first phase is scheduled to be operational by the fourth quarter of 2012.
“This SunPath award will accelerate the production and output of Soitec’s first large-scale CPV module manufacturing facility in San Diego,” said Clark Crawford vice president of Sales and 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.”
“The decision of the DOE to award Soitec with the largest share of the SunPath award provides a strong endorsement of our CPV technology,” added Gaetan Borgers, Executive VP of Soitec Solar Energy Division. “The 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 directly into “clean” electricity via concentrator optics and high-efficiency solar cells offering 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 photovoltaic system optics to further increase the efficiency levels of the CPV modules. Soitec’s fifth generation Concentrix CPV modules provide a market-leading 30% module efficiency (or 2 to 3 times the efficiency of conventional PV technology).
High volume CPV module production at the San Diego facility will enable Soitec 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 award will be finalized pending completion of the contract negotiations with the DOE.