Soitec to supply 150MW California project and build factory

Concentrating PV (CPV) technology provider Soitec has been picked to supply systems for one of the largest projects yet to use a combination of concentrating optics and high-efficiency solar cells. It also plans to build a factory in San Diego.. Tenaska Solar Ventures is developing the 150MW Imperial Solar Energy Center (ISEC) West in Imperial County, southern California..

The project has a 25-year power-purchase agreement with utility San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E), which is building a major transmission project to reach anticipated solar and wind projects in the Imperial Valley..

In connection with the project, French semiconductor substrate provider Soitec says it will build a San Diego factory capable of producing 200MW of CPV modules annually, employing about 450 people. .

SDG&E senior vice-president James Avery touts the jobs as a direct benefit of the utility's push towards obtaining a third of its power from renewable sources by 2020..

It is mandated by California's Renewable Portfolio Standard to get 20% of its retail sales from renewables, but SDG&E reached only 11.9% in 2010..

Soitec, which acquired an 80% stake in Concentrix Solar after it was spun out of the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems in Germany, says its CPV technology is suited to desert locations, such as the Imperial Valley, because of its use of multi-junction cells..

The ISEC West project will feature dual-axis trackers to boost efficiency and extend power production. "The ISEC West solar power plant will demonstrate Concentrix CPV scalability, and commercial viability of this innovative technology for utility-scale deployment," says Dave Fiorelli of Tenaska, a Nebraska-based independent energy producer. The project is expected to be completed in 2015. The developer is seeking a federal loan guarantee..

Soitec says it will begin its factory investment upon receipt of the loan guarantee and closure of its agreement with Tenaska. The factory would come on line 18 months after a site is determined..

Soitec is to begin delivering CPV systems to the project in early 2013.