It's a quintessential American story.
Jim McKirdy, the gentleman who brought us 50-percent-efficient solar panels built in Florida that work by moonlight is now spreading his solar fantasy in Puerto Rico and to folks in Arizona.
Before we get to the McKirdy story: I'm in the midst of reading Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn, and one of the sub-plots involves two grifters ("The Duke" and "The King") who travel the Mississippi selling patent medicine or impersonating royalty, anything that will permit them to bilk the locals of their wallets. Sometimes they succeed, sometimes they get run out of town on a rail.
Huck says of their behavior: "It was enough to make a body ashamed of the human race."
Which brings us to James McKirdy, his company Off Grid Solar, and his NXGen solar panels.
When we last covered James McKirdy, he was making these claims:
- A "breakthrough solar power generation panel" that measures 2 feet by 4 feet and yields 630 watts.
- The firm "has obtained orders for 850 megawatts of panels."
- The firm's panels have an "energy conversion rate of 46 percent -- the highest on the market" (the Off Grid Solar website actually claimed 50 percent conversion efficiency).
- "These are low-light panels capable of full production in light conditions that would normally stop most other panels from producing usable energy."
- "These panels come with a 56-year manufacturers' limited warranty on workmanship."
- "A manufacturing plant is being outfitted as of this announcement in Nevada which will nearly triple the Florida production output, which is expected to be approximately 5.25 million watts per 8-hour shift daily, initially."
- NXGenSolar™ panels are not adversely affected by temperature; the operational window is between -300º & +600º Fahrenheit. This makes them highly effective even in extremely hot or cold conditions, since energy is produced at a consistent rate.
In an article in the Sun Sentinel from March of 2010, McKirdy said he received "a $400 million order for panels from a firm developing solar energy farms and has agreements with distributors to help market his product in Tennessee and Texas."
Armed with this breakthrough technology, Off Grid was going to provide enough photovoltaic panels to satisfy the needs of the 2010 U.S. market at a record-setting efficiency with an unprecedented warranty -- with panels made in a yet unbuilt Florida factory.
He left behind him a trail of bilked investors, realtors, and partners. We have spoken with a number of his victims, most of them ashamed of their naiivete and not eager to have their names used in this article.
McKirdy and his solar company went quiet for a while but now we've received reports of him promoting his company to PREPA, a utility in Puerto Rico, and to interests in Arizona. A new document from his company has come into our possession which includes these claims:
- For the last 40-plus years, our company has been hidden from the general public because we wanted to avoid conflicts with the energy industry.
- Using our electronically designed products to capture the sun’s energy and produce electric power to operate many products will make our lives easy. Solar landscaping lighting and the solar calculator were some of the products we developed along with space applications and aids to navigation. Now there are millions of our products all over the world.
- Additionally, Off Grid Solar has established itself as one of the largest wholly owned American solar manufacturing companies. Manufacturing of all products will be in our own factories in Florida and Nevada, using machines that have been designed and built by an American company based in southern Florida.
- Based on competitive c-Si systems Off Grid Solar offers superior profit potential based on the enhanced productivity of the technology and the reduced to-market costs. Additionally, these modules carry a 56-year production warranty; within years 1-15, energy loss shall not exceed 5% of ratings and over the remaining 46 years losses shall not exceed 10%. Furthermore, compared to competitive products that produce approximately 13.2w/sf (industry average), OGS panels can exceed 78w/sf thereby increasing project yield and profits.
Projects in development?
The Off Grid Solar document includes a list of projects "under development and contract." Note that the projects use the unit "mW." The author probably means "MW" for megawatt but "mW" for milliwatt might be closer to the truth. Here's the list:
"At the end of the 2012 year, Off Grid Solar intends to be in a position to bring to market over 800mW of annual production. This would make OGS the largest completely American owned and operated solar module producer."
Under Development & Contract:
- 720mW Off Grid System in Kingman, Arizona
- 200mW Off Grid System in Florida
- 100mW Interconnected system in Texas
- 1.2mW Off Grid System for U.S. Navy
- 293mW Off Grid System for Puerto Rico Solar Farm Developers
- 150mW Solar Farm in Puerto Rico to be owned/operated by Off Grid Solar
- 1,600mW Solar Farm in Las Vegas, to be owned/operated by Off Grid Solar
The document then throws in this distraction of "Installation base (clients)" which includes:
- 2.0mW Off Grid Solar Generator at a shopping mall, India
- U.S. Coast Guard – Over 4,000,000 Aids to Navigation
- U.S. Dept. of Transportation – Over 900,000 systems for highway safety, traffic control and observations.
- U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security – Telemetry devices for recording and observations.
- NASA & U.S. Air Force – Over 3,200 power generating systems for satellite use.
- U.S. Dept of Treasury -- 14 low orbit satellite communication systems.
- Sprint & Verizon – over 400 cell phone communication satellite power generation systems.
McKirdy's LinkedIn profile includes this: "We have had this technology since the 1960s. We are developing the Next Generation Solar Photovoltaic Solar Panels now! Our goal is to capture all forms of light. Low light conditions to full sun light. Visible, IR and UV light plus storing the energy of light. Our goal is to make a solar panel that absorbs light, produces electric power and stores light. The total solution to the world's energy problems."
According to a source, McKirdy is telling people at PREPA and the Puerto Rican government that the solar farm guarantee and output are insured by Lloyd's of London.
McKirdy has also claimed that DuPont is making the panels for his firm. We've contacted DuPont -- and their Apollo solar subsidiary is not a supplier of product to Off Grid Solar.
Here are some slides from a McKirdy slide deck:
Here's a picture of the founder of the firm from the Florida Business Journal:
Hopefully, future clients of Jim McKirdy have Google search capabilities and will read the articles from Greentech Media that reveal the truth about his false claims.