Vice President Joe Biden announced that the Department of Energy (DOE) has finalized a US $535 million loan guarantee for Solyndra, Inc., which manufactures cylindrical solar photovoltaic panels. The funding will finance construction of the first phase of the company’s new manufacturing facility.
The guaranteed loan, expected to provide debt financing for approximately 73% of the project costs, will allow Solyndra to initiate construction of a solar panel fabrication facility in California. Once completed, the plant 2 is expected to have an annual manufacturing capacity of 500 megawatts per year.
Over its lifetime, the first phase of the facility could manufacture up to 7 gigawatts of solar panels, which can generate electricity equivalent to three or four coal fired power plants. Solyndra estimates the new plant will initially create 3,000 construction jobs, and lead to as many as 1,000 jobs once the facility opens.
"This announcement today is part of the unprecedented investment this Administration is making in renewable energy and exactly what the Recovery Act is all about," Vice President Biden said. "By investing in the infrastructure and technology of the future, we are not only creating jobs today, but laying the foundation for long-term growth in the 21st-century economy."
Solyndra is the first recipient of a loan guarantee under the Recovery Act and Title XVII of the Energy Policy Act of 2005. In addition, the loan guarantee issued to Solyndra is the first issued by DOE since the 1980s.
Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) president and CEO Rhone Resch said the award is another sign that the renewable energy industry is ready to lead the country in job creation and manufacturing.
“Today, Solyndra showed Secretary Chu and Governor Schwarzenegger why a policy investment in the solar industry is one of the best values for creating American jobs. The Department of Energy loan guarantee will allow Solyndra to build a manufacturing plant that will create 3,000 construction jobs and 1,000 long-term jobs. The loan guarantee will go a long way to replacing jobs lost from the upcoming closure of the local Toyota auto plant,” Resch said. “This is another example of how the solar industry is emerging as an economic engine and stepping up to the plate to fill the job void left by traditional manufacturing sectors.”
“The economy needs clean tech alternatives to help it recover, but our planet requires clean tech solutions in order to survive,” said Solyndra CEO and founder, Dr. Chris Gronet. “Fab 2 will allow us to meet customer demand while making a positive impact on the world’s energy and environmental needs. We are grateful for the vision and support of President Barack Obama, the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Congress, and our investors.”
The first phase of Fab 2 is being financed by public and private sources. Solyndra is the first company to receive a loan guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Energy under Title XVII of the Energy Policy Act of 2005. The $535 million loan from the U.S. Treasury, combined with $198 million from an equity financing round led by Argonaut Private Equity, provide the capital required for the project. Goldman, Sachs & Co. acted as exclusive financial advisor to Solyndra in connection with the DOE loan guarantee.
Solyndra estimates that the construction of Fab 2 will employ over 3,000 people, the ongoing operation of the facility will create over 1,000 jobs, and that installation of Solyndra PV systems will generate hundreds of additional jobs.
Optimized Photovoltaic Systems for Commercial Rooftops
In the U.S. alone, approximately 30 billion square feet of commercial rooftop surface is available for PV systems and could be utilized to create in excess of 150 gigawatts of electricity. Globally, this number could be two to three times higher. Tapping even a small fraction of this potential would make a significant impact on the world’s energy needs.
Solyndra designs, manufactures and sells solar photovoltaic (PV) systems comprised of panels and mounting hardware for large, low-slope commercial rooftops. The Solyndra system is designed to optimize PV performance on commercial rooftops by converting more of the sunlight that strikes the total rooftop area into electricity.
Solyndra’s panels employ cylindrical modules which capture sunlight across a 360-degree photovoltaic surface capable of converting direct, diffuse and reflected sunlight into electricity. Solyndra’s panels perform optimally when mounted horizontally and packed closely together, thereby covering significantly more of the typically available roof area and producing more electricity per rooftop on an annual basis than a conventional panel installation. The result is significantly more solar electricity per rooftop per year.
The Solyndra system is lightweight and the panels allow wind to blow through them. These factors enable the installation of PV on a broader range of rooftops without anchoring or ballast, which are inherently problematic. The horizontal mounting and unique “air-flow” properties of Solyndra’s solar panel design substantially simplify the installation process for Solyndra’s PV systems. The ease of installation and simpler mounting hardware of the Solyndra system enables its customers to realize significant savings on installation costs.
Using proprietary cylindrical CIGS modules and thin-film technology, Solyndra systems are designed to provide the lowest installation cost per system and the highest annual solar electrical energy output for typical low slope commercial rooftops.
The Solyndra system’s ability to cover more roof and capture more light results in more annual solar electricity generation. Solyndra panels employ cylindrical modules which capture sunlight across a 360-degree photovoltaic surface capable of converting direct, diffuse and reflected sunlight into electricity. This self-tracking design allows Solyndra’s PV systems to capture more sunlight than traditional flat-surfaced solar panels, which require costly tilted mounting devices to improve the capture of direct light, offer poor collection of diffuse light and fail to collect reflected light from rooftops or other installation surfaces.
For typical conventional PV installations, a solar panel is approximately half the cost of a complete installation; the other half includes additional expenses such as labor mounts, cables and inverters. Solyndra provides a packaged system comprised of panels and mounting hardware required to assemble standard-sized arrays.
To meet rooftop wind loading requirements, conventional flat solar panels must be anchored to commercial roofs with either ballast or rooftop penetrations, which are inherently problematic. Together with the need for tilting, the resulting complex mounting systems require significant and costly investment in labor, materials and engineering.
Solyndra’s system enables its customers to realize significant savings on installation costs. Because wind blows through Solyndra’s panels and horizontal mounting is optimum, simple, non-penetrating mounting hardware is used in the Solyndra system. No roof penetrations, attachments or ballast are needed. Panels and mounts are quickly attached together, enabling installations to be done in one third of the time of conventional PV installations. After the installation is complete, these same attributes enable Solyndra systems to be easily moved for relocation or roof servicing.
Solyndra designs and manufactures photovoltaic systems, comprised of panels and mounting hardware, for the commercial rooftop market.
Solyndra employs high-volume manufacturing based on proven technologies and processes to meet the needs of the global solar market. Using proprietary cylindrical modules and thin-film technology, Solyndra systems are designed to provide the lowest installed cost per system and the highest solar electrical energy output for typical low slope commercial rooftops. Headquartered in Fremont, CA, Solyndra operates a state-of-the-art 300,000-square-foot fully automated manufacturing complex. Learn more at www.solyndra.com