Concentrator photovoltaic (CPV) system maker SolFocus Inc of Mountain View, CA, USA has completed it …

The 18-month, $2.2m subcontract was awarded in November 2007 by the Department of Energy to develop reflective-optic-based CPV panels that 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 campus in Golden, CO, it was determined that the SolFocus technology met or exceeded the program’s requirements.

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The optics developed under the program have been incorporated into the SolFocus’ second product, the 1100S CPV system, which was launched last November and 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). “They developed a highly innovative 650x concentrating PV module emphasizing high reliability and high efficiency,” says NREL senior scientist Martha Symko-Davies.

As the first showcase for the technology developed through the PV incubator program, eleven SF-1100S CPV arrays will be installed at the 92kW Central Arizona Project Water Treatment Plant of the City of Mesa, Arizona (a pilot and initial endeavor for a long-term, private/public strategic collaboration that aims to demonstrate the technical and commercial viability and value of a larger-scale approach to distributed generation). The 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,” says the city’s director of economic development, Bill Jabjiniak. “SolFocus has become an important partner to the City of Mesa in its economic development efforts as well as in its sustainable energy initiatives.” In April, SolFocus completed a 15-fold capacity expansion of its Mesa glass reflector manufacturing factory (to 2 million concentrating reflectors annually, sufficient for 30MW of solar power generation), with full production expected in second-half 2009 and an annual payroll of more than $7.5m.

The funds awarded for city of Mesa showcase build on a series of commercial milestones for SolFocus: the close of Series C Funding earlier this summer; an agreement in July with GreenWing Energy Management Ltd of Vancouver, Canada to supply CPV systems for its large-scale solar power projects in the western USA; the largest CPV installation in Europe currently underway in Greece; and the first certification of a CPV system to IEC 62108 standards in May.

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