21 February 2011
SoloPower receives $197m DOE loan guarantee to build CIGS PV module factory
SoloPower Inc of San Jose, CA, USA, which makes flexible, lightweight copper indium gallium di-selenide (CIGS) thin-film photovoltaic (PV) cells and modules on stainless-steel materials using a proprietary low-cost roll-to-roll electro-deposition process, has received a conditional commitment from the US Department of Energy (DOE) Loan Programs Office for a $197m loan guarantee. The funds will support construction of a $340m high-volume manufacturing facility in Wilsonville, OR that, when completed and at full capacity, should produce about 400MW of modules annually.
“Oregon is already an epicenter for renewable energy projects,” says Oregon Senator Ron Wyden. “A loan guarantee to help companies such as SoloPower get important projects off the ground is the right approach,” he asserts.
“This backing allows us to rapidly ramp up our production and to promote the spread of clean, distributed solar power to the rooftops and on the ground, while providing hundreds of quality manufacturing jobs,” states SoloPower’s CEO Tim Harris.
In January, SoloPower said that it had agreed to construct its first high-volume manufacturing plant in Wilsonville, as the Small Scale Energy Loan Program (SELP) Advisory Committee recommended approval to the Oregon Department of Energy for a $20m loan to the firm. The firm also applied for a Business Energy Tax Credit (BETC) of $20m from the State of Oregon. The State funding supplements $51.575m in fourth-round equity and warrant/option financing raised last December from existing investors Crosslink Capital (of San Francisco), Convexa A/S (of Oslo, Norway) and Hudson Clean Energy Partners LP (of Teaneck, NJ) in order to expand SoloPower’s existing 109,000ft2 small-scale production plant in San Jose and to finance construction of the new plant. Previously, SoloPower (which was founded in 2005) raised $230m in 2008 alone, followed by $44.9m in debt financing in February 2010.
Retrofit of an existing building in Wilsonville is scheduled to begin in second-quarter 2011. The plant is expected to provide direct employment to about 500 people at full capacity. About 270 construction jobs will be created to build the plant, and additional jobs are also likely to be generated in the local supply chain.
The new plant's ultimate annual capacity was originally announced in January as 300MW. Although SoloPower intends to built four 75MW lines (with the first-phase 75MW line creating 170 jobs), the firm reckons that it has efficiencies that will enable it to produce 100MW off each line, yielding the 400MW capacity.
SoloPower’s family of lightweight flexible modules are certified to both UL and IEC standards with up to 260Wp per panel, and are currently being sold in small volumes to leading customers in five countries.