California-based radio station KGO on Thursday activated a 7.2-kilowatt concentrating-solar installation from SolFocus Inc., with U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., remotely flipping the switch on the air.

"This is absolutely great and it's a manifestation of the policies that we have to present in our country to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and on foreign oil," Pelosi said on the show, as the system started up. "Congratulations to KGO for taking this giant step into the future."

The project marks SolFocus' first commercial installation in North America, said Nancy Hartsoch, vice president of marketing at SolFocus. The radio station, which claims it is now the first solar station in the country, bought the system and is eligible to take advantage of California rebates, the company said.

The system is also the first SolFocus installation – and the first concentrating-photovoltaic installation – that qualifies to participate in California's solar-incentive program, as SolFocus announced its panels met the state energy commission's energy and reliability standards last month.

"SolFocus was a natural fit with KGO's mission of instituting green initiatives that will both make a tangible impact and further the development of emerging solutions," Hartsoch said.

The company, founded in 2005, uses lenses and curved mirrors to concentrate sunlight onto small solar cells.

A SolFocus spokesperson added that it still considers the system to be demonstration-size –although it was a commercial sale – as the company is ultimately targeting larger-scale projects.

The company in September said it had completed its first commercial project, installing 500 kilowatts worth of concentrating-solar equipment in Spain (see SolFocus Completes Spanish Project, Eyes California).

At the time, the company said it had installed panels at the radio transmitter near Fremont, Calif., and also had installed systems at six test sites. It also said it hoped to soon announce a commercial project in California involving a hot desert site.

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