The concentrated photovoltaic market is stirring. A few weeks ago, we brought news of the largest CPV project in the U.S. Developments from SolFocus, Soitec, Solar Junction, and Amonix continue to make the news.
U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu just made the $90.6 million loan guarantee to Cogentrix official this morning for the construction of the Alamosa Solar Generating Project, a 30-megawatt high concentration solar photovoltaic (HCPV) project in south-central Colorado. That 30 megawatts would hold the title as the largest CPV project in the world when it is completed at its target of mid-2012.
Cogentrix, a subsidiary of The Goldman Sachs Group, estimates that the project will create about 100 construction jobs and 10 operations jobs. The project will source over 80 percent of its components from the U.S. Most of Cogentrix' previous projects have been for fossil fuel plants.
Cogentrix plans to use the mammoth concentrating panels from CPV veteran Amonix, the Kleiner Perkins- and Westly Group-backed solar hardware supplier. Ben Kortlang, the KPCB partner on the Amonix board of directors, spent eight years at Goldman Sachs prior to his Kleiner Perkins role and investment in Amonix.
Amonix just unveiled a partnership with the University of Arizona’s Solar Zone and Tucson Electric Power for a 2-megawatt (AC) power plant powered by 36 CPV solar power systems.
The Alamosa plant will sell its electricity output to Public Service Company of Colorado, an Xcel Energy company.
This is the first loan guarantee for a CPV project -- although Soitec, selected by Tenaska Solar Ventures for an even larger 150-megawatt solar project for San Diego Gas & Electric, is also awaiting a decision on a DOE loan guarantee.
Loan guarantees for solar energy production have a lower risk profile than loan guarantees for advanced solar manufacturing (see Solyndra or 1366) but CPV still needs to keep its price dropping to remain competitive with silicon -- and ultimately, with fossil fuels.