World's Biggest Concentrating Solar PV Factory Opens Soon in San Diego

San Diego will soon be home to the world’s largest solar concentrating PV (CPV) manufacturing plant, and it’s being built by a French company that’s not only involved in solar.

Soitec makes semiconductor materials for electronics and other industries, and makes ConcentrixTM concentrator photovoltaic (CPV) modules for large-scale projects in the solar industry.

It’s converting a 176,000-square-foot manufacturing complex on 15 acres to a factory that will provide components to over 300 megawatts (MW) of well advanced solar projects throughout San Diego and Imperial Counties, such as the 150 MW Solar Energy Center West.

The factory, which opens later this year, will be able to produce 200 MW of concentrating modules a year for an investment of $150 million. It’s employing about 450 people on-site and will create an estimated 1000 indirect solar jobs at full capacity.

The Department of Energy (DOE) gave Soitec a $25 million grant from its SUNPATH (Scaling Up Nascent PV At Home) program, which aims to increase US manufacturing competitiveness in the global solar market.

Soitec says its ConcentrixTM CPV modules provide a market-leading 25% module efficiency that performs better than conventional PV, particularly in areas with extremely hot ambient temperatures and dry weather conditions. It expects module efficiencies to reach 37% by 2015 – two to three times that of standard PV.

Besides selling modules to the utility-scale solar plants being built in the US SouthWest, Soitec plans to export to countries in the Pacific Rim.

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Comments on “World's Biggest Concentrating Solar PV Factory Opens Soon in San Diego”

  1. Donna Tisdale

    It appears that Soitec is not being totally honest or forthcoming. Did Soitec disclose their $70 million loss (posted in March 2012 financial report) to decision makers prior to receiving the $25M DOE grant and an addtional estimated $10.4 M in sales and use tax exclusions from the California Alternative Energy Advanced Transportation Financiny Authority? If not disclosed, Soitec may have made false material representations in order to secure those benefits. On the other hand, if they did disclose the loss, then both the DOE and CAEATFA decison makers have some explaining to do to state and federal tax payers and any remaining ethical law enforcement and oversight agencies. Soitec also needs to disclose the fact that the Power Purchase Agreement for CSolar South was ammended by SDG&E to delay the date of serive and to allow the use of PV instead of Soitec Concentrix CPV modules. Soitec’s other 4 CPV projects planned in the tiny and disproportionately impacted rural community of Boulevard California are facing difficulty gaining the required Major Use Permits. Just 3 of their projects represent over 7 million square feet of module surface–equal to the square footage of approximately 38 Walmart Supercenters. Our community planning group has formally voted to oppose these industrial scale energy projects that are proposed too close to homes and in biologically and culturally sensitive areas. Soitec is on a very rocky road that may lead nowhere…and we will be dogging their every step to make sure they make full disclosure of the on the ground facts. Check it out for yourself….


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