Solyndra's unusually shaped solar thin films have found a home on top of a movie theater in Livermore, Calif.
SPG Solar has installed a 132-kilowatt system at Livermore Cinemas, a project that Solyndra touted as one of the early commercial installations with its solar panels. The system is now generating power.
Solyndra, based in Fremont, Calif., has developed a way to deposit a thin layer of solar cells in glass tubes, which are then placed side by side in a panel. Conventional solar panels, on the other hand, have a flat surface. The company garnered national spotlight earlier this month when it became the first company to get a loan guarantee from a renewable energy program run by the U.S. Department of Energy. The loan guarantee would allow Solyndra to borrow $535 million from the federal government for building a second factory.
Because Solyndra’s technology is so different from that of its peers, it has attracted a lot of skepticism and fascination. The company uses copper, indium, gallium and selenium (CIGS) as the key ingredients for converting sunlight into electricity, an approach that is just starting to be commercialized. Other CIGS companies include Miasolé, Nanosolar and HelioVolt.
Solyndra claims that the solar cell-lined cylinders could capture direct, diffuse and reflected sunlight from all angles, making them more productive than conventional panels. Most of the panels sold today use crystalline silicon, which can convert a higher percentage of sunlight into power than CIGS. Cells in those panels typically face only one direction.
The Livermore installation is one of several that have been completed in the United States and Europe, said Kelly Truman, vice president of marketing and sales at Solyndra, in an interview last week. The company is targeting the commercial rooftop market.