Energy Department invests millions to accelerate high-volume solar manufacturing

A $25 million federal grant will speed the construction of a solar manufacturing plant in San Diego, in an effort to boost U.S. competitiveness.

Semiconductor maker Soitec Solar, recipient of the Department of Energy grant, will pour the funds into equipment at its Rancho Bernando-area plant. Production is set to start before the end of the year on concentrated photovoltaic modules that use optical lenses to focus sunlight on tiny, highly efficient solar cells.

A publicly traded company based in Bernin, France, Soitec entered the concentrated photovoltaics business in 2009 with the purchase of Concentrix Solar, a spinoff of the Fraunhofer Institutes, a network of publicly funded research centers in Germany.

Soitec received the largest share of $37 million in Energy Department grants designed to accelerate high-volume solar manufacturing over the next two years.

 

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More about Soitec’s CPV (concentrated photovoltaic) modules:

Soitec’s CPV modules are built on Concentrix technology. They use Fresnel lenses to concentrate sunlight 500 times and focus it onto small, highly efficient multi-junction solar cells. This technology has helped us achieve world-leading AC system efficiency increases of 25% in actual operating conditions. This is almost twice as high as the efficiency increases achieved using conventional silicon systems.

 

Click for a video description of this technologyConcentrix Technology

 

 

 

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Solar Industry booming with 21% growth – Solar Leasing now has waitlists

Unlike much of the rest of the economy, the solar industry is growing rapidly. New solar installations in California jumped by 21 percent last year. An increasing amount of that growth is from “solar leasing.”

What’s commonly called “solar leasing” is now the most popular way for homeowners to install solar electricity.

A solar company installs the panels for the customer for free or for a minimal cost. Then it sells the consumer the electricity for about 10 percent less than local utility rates.

SolarCity CEO Lyndon Rive, “before solar was more designed to those who could afford a large upfront cost of $20,000 to $25,000. Now the average person can go solar and just start saving money, there’s no investment.”

Rive says the option is so popular that in some markets his company has a waiting list of 4 to 6 months.

via Capital Public Radio

 

// Photo – Heritage Solar