8 August 2012
Soitec’s CPV technology selected in French call for tenders for ‘large solar power plant’ projects
Soitec of Bernin, France says that its concentrator photovoltaic (CPV) technology is present in most of the eight projects in the sub-category ‘concentrator solar plants with installed capacity of less than 12MW’ after the selection of successful participants in the call for tenders to build and operate ‘large solar power plants’ (with individual capacity of over 250kWp), launched in September by the French Energy Regulatory Commission (CRE, Commission de régulation de l’énergie).
Recently selected by Delphine Bathot, French Minister of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy, the eight projects have over 54MW in total capacity, with CPV solutions accounting for at least 30% of each project’s installed capacity.
“Their go-ahead depends of course on gaining all the requisite permits and their design may yet be tweaked by the various partners,” notes Gaetan Borgers, executive VP of Soitec’s Solar Energy Division, of the projects. “This choice reflects not only their confidence in our technology, but also in our manufacturing capabilities,” he comments. “We possess a great deal of experience in large-scale manufacturing, with automated lines and certified processes.”
Soitec says that the solar energy conversion efficiency of its CPV modules is near to 30% – double that of conventional photovoltaic products.
“The announcement of the winners of this call for tenders illustrates the determination of our government to foster the emergence of a first-class solar energy industry,” comments Soitec’s chairman & CEO André-Jacques Auberton-Hervé. “Our company is originally from the Grenoble area of southeastern France, but thanks to its innovation and its expertise, it has established itself in global markets,” he adds. “These projects will help to establish the ramp-up in the highest-performance technologies. For example, we are already working on development of a new, very high-performance cell.”
Soitec’s CPV technology uses triple-junction cells mounted on a glass plate. Fresnel lenses (manufactured using silicone on glass) concentrate sunlight 500 times before it reaches the photovoltaic cells. A metal frame holds two glass plates to form highly robust, durable and resilient modules. By combining several modules on biaxial trackers (based on a proprietary algorithm automatically optimizing their position based on the path of the sun), Soitec maximizes energy generation throughout the day.
Soitec says that its work on a new type of cell should ultimately enable it to achieve an energy yield of about 50%. In addition to its teams in France, Soitec also has 70MW in production capacity in Germany (with ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 certification). In the future, this manufacturing base will be boosted by Soitec’s new plant in San Diego, CA, USA, which will ultimately add 200MW in capacity.