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11 July 2013

Soitec completes first solar power plant in California with modules from its San Diego factory

At the Intersolar North America 2013 conference in San Francisco (9-11 July), concentrating photovoltaic (CPV) solar system maker Soitec of Bernin, France has announced that its subsidiary Soitec Solar Development LLC of Peabody, MA, USA has completed construction of the 1.5MWAC Newberry Solar 1 project in San Bernardino County, CA. Power generated by Newberry Solar 1 will be sold to Southern California Edison under a 20-year power purchase agreement (PPA). It is the largest CPV power plant in California, featuring Soitec’s latest and most efficient technology with modules manufactured in nearby San Diego.

“This announcement 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,” says Gaetan Borgers, executive VP of Soitec’s Solar Energy Division. “Newberry Solar 1 is the first solar power plant constructed in the US with our most advanced CPV modules shipped directly from our new San Diego manufacturing facility,” he adds. “With a current  production capacity of 280MWp and a worldwide pipeline of solar power plant projects 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 timeframe.”

The Newberry Solar 1 power plant connects directly to Southern California Edison’s distribution network and will provide about 500 Southern California homes with energy while offsetting the emission of almost 2300 tons of carbon dioxide each year.

The power plant uses Soitec’s fifth-generation Concentrix CX-S530 CPV systems, designed as Soitec’s next step towards achieving a levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) for utility-scale solar power plants in the sunniest regions of the world. With a module area of over 100 square meters (1130 square feet), one CX-S530 generates a capacity of 28kWp. The size of the system is optimized to deliver high performance while drastically reducing costs for manufacturing, installation and maintenance. The system uses 12 of the large Soitec CX-M500 modules and delivers an efficiency of 30% (about twice the efficiency of conventional photovoltaic panels).

The 720 CX-M500 modules used at Newberry Solar 1 were manufactured in Soitec’s new North American manufacturing headquarters in San Diego on fully automated assembly lines. Commissioned in December 2012, the factory is currently targeted to reach its full capacity of 280MWp by October, making Soitec the third largest solar module manufacturer in the USA.

With installations in 18 countries around the world, Soitec says that its CPV technology is proving its competitiveness to generate solar power, largely due to its higher production yields throughout the sunlight hours. In addition, CPV technology’s ability to operate without cooling water, withstand hot ambient temperatures and have minimal environmental impact make it suitable for use in desert areas. Soitec hence reckons that it is is well positioned to expand quickly in the sunniest regions of the world, which are also the fastest-growing market segments of the solar industry.

Tags: Soitec CPV


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