The 18-month, $2.2 million subcontract was awarded in November 2007 by the Department of Energy to develop reflective optic-based CPV panels which would enable the reliable generation of solar energy at a large scale capable of being cost competitive with fossil fuels. After a final review at NREL’s Golden, CO campus, the laboratory determined the SolFocus technology met or exceeded the program’s requirements.
The optics developed under this program have been incorporated into the SolFocus 1100S CPV system which has recently transitioned into full scale commercialization, with 11MW of product being shipped this year and an estimated 100MW of manufacturing capacity in place by the end of 2011. "SolFocus successfully completed the 18-month aggressive Incubator Technology program," said NREL senior scientist Martha Symko-Davies. "They developed a highly innovative 650x concentrating PV module emphasizing high reliability and high efficiency."
The City of Mesa, Arizona will be the first showcase of this SolFocus technology developed through the NREL PV incubator program. Eleven SolFocus SF-1100S CPV arrays will be installed at the city’s Central Arizona Project Water Treatment Plant. These arrays will interconnect with the Salt River Project’s electric distribution system meter providing power to Red Mountain Park, across the street from the treatment facility.
"The city of Mesa is committed to developing renewable energy sources as part of its environmental sustainability program," explained Bill Jabjiniak, Director of Economic Development for the city. "SolFocus has become an important partner to the City of Mesa in its economic development efforts as well as in its sustainable energy initiatives." SolFocus recently completed an expansion of its Mesa glass reflector manufacturing factory with full production expected in the second half of 2009 and an annual payroll of more than $7.5 million.
The 92kW Central Arizona Project Water Treatment Plant is a pilot and initial endeavor for a long-term, private/public strategic collaboration that will demonstrate the technical and commercial viability and value of a larger scale, innovative approach to distributed generation.
The awarded funds build upon a series of commercial milestones for SolFocus: the close of Series C Funding earlier this month; the announcement of the SolFocus SF-1100S system in November; the largest CPV installation in Europe currently underway in Greece, the first certification of a CPV system to IEC 62108 standards, and the 15-fold capacity expansion of the company’s manufacturing facility in Mesa, Arizona.
GreenWing Energy Signs Agreement with SolFocus for Utility Scale Deployments of Concentrator Photovoltaic (CPV) Systems
Cutting-Edge CPV Design Combines Leading Solar Efficiencies with Minimal Water and Land Use Impacts. Renewable energy industry leader GreenWing Energy Management Ltd. announced that it has signed a landmark agreement with SolFocus, Inc. for SolFocus to supply high concentration photovoltaic (CPV) systems for GreenWing’s large-scale solar power projects in the western United States. The agreement marks an important expansion of GreenWing’s business into the rapidly growing solar energy sector. GreenWing will continue to develop its portfolio of world-class wind energy projects in the U.S. and Canada. GreenWing intends to install the SolFocus CPV systems in both new utility-scale projects (20-300MW) and larger distributed generation applications (1-20MW).
The innovative SolFocus CPV design employs a system of patented reflective optics to concentrate sunlight 650 times onto small, highly efficient solar cells. The SolFocus 1100S system uses approximately 1/1,000th of the active, expensive solar cell material compared to traditional photovoltaic panels. In addition, the cells utilized in SolFocus CPV systems have over twice the efficiency of traditional silicon photovoltaic cells. In solar-rich regions, the SolFocus CPV technology yields efficiencies that help solar power costs approach parity with fossil fuel generation.
"SolFocus CPV systems have demonstrated exceptional solar energy conversion rates," explained GreenWing’s Vice President of Business Development Matt Penry. "These best-in-class efficiencies combined with a low-cost manufacturing program by SolFocus facilitate the generation of cost-competitive solar energy." SolFocus CPV panels are ground mounted on two-axis trackers which optimize capture of the sun’s energy and provides for near full capacity power production during all daylight hours.
The SolFocus CPV design also provides for numerous important environmental benefits when compared to other solar power generation technologies including next to no water usage, a very small footprint, emissions free electricity, no noise from sites, no permanent shadowing or wildlife corridor interruptions, and no disruptive solar glare.
"Solar energy production in the high solar resource regions of the world is projected to grow at an annual rate of over 40% or nearly twice the rate of the traditional solar markets. GreenWing and SolFocus are ideally positioned to participate in this exciting and rapidly growing market segment and provide customers with a cost competitive and environmentally responsible solution." added Penry.
"It is with great pride and high expectations that we announce this agreement with GreenWing Energy," commented SolFocus President and CEO Mark Crowley. "GreenWing possesses a demonstrated, high level expertise in project development as well as in building, developing and managing relationships with customers and service providers. These capabilities are extremely valuable to SolFocus as we accelerate our volume equipment production program in the upcoming months."
"This agreement clearly illustrates GreenWing’s commitment to PV technology and the significant environmental and economic benefits that it presents. GreenWing is confident that the energy conversion efficiencies and modest environmental impacts of the SolFocus technology will represent a competitive advantage for GreenWing in providing our customers with a reliable and cost-competitive renewable energy product for many years to come," stated Dan Allard, CEO of GreenWing Energy Management Ltd.
The most abundant renewable energy source in the world is the sun, yet this is a resource whose potential has barely been tapped. Today this is changing, with new technologies beginning to gain momentum in the market. With a worldwide goal of 15% of energy supplied by the sun by 2020, it will take many solar technologies to achieve this goal and provide clean, renewable and affordable energy. The bottom line – all solar is good. The key is putting the right technology to work in the right place to achieve the greatest energy output at the best value.
CPV is the optimum technology providing:
* High energy output in high solar resource regions
* High energy density to optimize output from a given area of land
* High output during peak load demand
* Scalability of sites from kilowatts to megawatts
Concentrating photovoltaic (CPV) systems convert light energy into electricity in the same way conventional PV technology does. The difference lies in the addition of an optical system that focuses a large area of sunlight onto each cell for providing reduced energy costs and improved manufacturability and reliability.
Optical System: CPV technology utilizes an optical element to collect the sun’s light, and concentrate it at between 250-1000 suns (times) onto high efficiency solar cells which are 1 square centimeter in size. The basic concept is to replace expensive solar cell material with optical elements created from less expensive, readily available materials such as glass. In the example to the left SolFocus uses a primary mirror to collect the sunlight, focuses it on a secondary mirror, and then down the optical rod onto the high efficiency III-V cell.
High Efficiency Cells: The cells used in CPV systems are over twice the efficiency of traditional silicon-based PV cells, approaching 40% compared with 15% – 19% for traditional silicon. The use of these cells provide much higher energy yield with less photovoltaic material.
Tracking System: CPV systems must stay in line with the sun in order to provide the concentrating benefit. Because concentrator optics are in essence telescopes, they only see a small proportion of the sky. The higher the concentration level, the narrower this angle. As a result, concentrators above 3X need to track the sun on either one or two axis.
The SolFocus mission is to enable solar energy generation at a Levelized Cost of Energy (LCOE) competitive with traditional fossil fuel sources. To achieve this goal, SolFocus has developed leading concentrator photovoltaic (CPV) technology which combines high-efficiency solar cells (approaching 40%) and advanced optics to provide solar energy solutions which are scalable, dependable and capable of delivering on the promise of clean, low-cost, renewable energy. SolFocus is headquartered in Mountain View, California with European operations headquartered in Madrid, Spain, and manufacturing in Mesa, Arizona as well as with manufacturing partners in India and China.
NREL is the U.S. Department of Energy’s primary national laboratory for renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development. NREL is operated for DOE by the Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC.