No Shortage of Solar Projects after Solyndra Bankruptcy

Despite the recent bankruptcy of solar panel manufacturer Solyndra, and the efforts of Republican lawmakers to paint one business failure as a scandal, there are no shortage of significant solar projects in the works. And some of them are moving forward with the help of government money.

1366 Technologies Cuts Solar Manufacturing Costs

Earlier this month the US Department of Energy (DOE) finalized a $150 million loan guarantee to 1366 Technologies, for a multicrystalline solar wafer manufacturing project that can significantly drive down the costs of solar manufacturing.  

The company’s Direct Wafer manufacturing process reduces the cost of making solar wafers 50% by dramatically cutting the time it takes to make them – from three days to just 25 seconds. They do this by combining four separate manufacturing steps into a single, low cost continuous process. It also reduces energy use by a whopping 90%.

The factory will produce 700 to 1,000 megawatts (MW) of silicon-based wafers a year. The first phase will be located in Lexington, Massachusetts, with other locations to follow, creating hundreds of solar jobs

DOE also recently finalized a $1.2 billion loan guarantee for the Mojave Solar Project, a 250 MW concentraing solar plant in San Bernardino County, California. The project will increase the nation’s currently installed concentrating solar capacity by 50%, while creating almost 1000 jobs.

Abengoa’s Solar Collector Assembly technology, which was developed using an award from DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, makes parabolic mirrors that are easier and less expensive to build and install because of their lighter, stronger frame. The heat collectors increases thermal efficiency 30%.  

Solar Installations in California, New Mexico, Indiana

Meanwhile in California, Southern California Edison (SCE) is developing a 10 MW solar PV installation, which it says is the largest installation of its kind in the US.

The utility has a 20-year lease for an industrial rooftop, where it’s installing 36,000 PV panels. The project is expected to be operational in 2012. 

And in New Mexico, Sun Edison, a subsidiary of MEMC Electronic Materials (NTSE: WFR), activated the first three of five PV solar plants in Carlsbad. When all five plants are online by the end of 2011, the 53.5 MW multi-site solar project will be among the largest PV plants in the US.  Wells Fargo provided $200 million to finance the projects, its largest renewable energy construction loan to date. 

Wells Fargo has financed $2.2 billion in renewable energy projects since 2006, including funding for 35 wind projects and over 220 solar projects in 26 states.

Elsewhere, Indianapolis International Airport selected ET Energy Solutions to build and operate 41,000 solar array covering 60 acres –  the largest airport solar plant in the state and one of the largest in the country. When it begins operating in 2012, it  will produce 10 MW of electricity for the Indianapolis Power & Light grid.

The array, which will produce enough electricity to power 1,200 homes, still needs approval from the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission and the Federal Aviation Administration.

ET Energy Solutions will finance, design, build and operate the solar farm and will pay the Airport Authority to lease the 60 acres for at least 30 years – no public money will be spent.

These and other projects have led to a 69% increase in grid-connected PV installations in the second quarter of 2011 over the same period last year, according to a report from the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). Installed capacity in the US has reached 314 MW, and grid-connected PV has reached 2.7 GW.

The US is poised to install 1,750 megawatts of solar PV in 2011, double last year’s total and enough to power 350,000 homes.

The solar industry employs over 100,000 Americans in over 5000 companies, according to The Solar Foundation’s National Solar Jobs Census 2011 report.

"The US is currently the strongest, most stable national growth market for PV," the report says.

Yet, even as the American Sustainable Business Council (ASBC) wrote to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, asking for the chance for renewable technologies to compete fairly in the marketplace with government-subsidized fossil fuels, House Republicans voted last week to strip $100 million from the Department of Energy (DOE) loan program that provided the Solyndra loan guarantee.

Subsidies for oil companies and other fossil fuel producers remain, however.

To date, DOE loans and loan guarantees total nearly $40 billion in support of over 40 clean energy projects, including several of the world’s largest solar generation facilities, three geothermal projects, and the world’s largest wind farm

Learn more:

Website: [sorry this link is no longer available]     
(Visited 5,913 times, 4 visits today)

Post Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *