Last week was a seismic-shifting week in the world of energy, utilities, and renewables.

SunPower, Silicon Valley's premier solar manufacturer, had a controlling stake acquired by Total. Michael Kanellos reported on the event here and drilled down to its deeper implications here. The event has the potential to bust some M&A dams, as well as to change the solar industry landscape.    

BrightSource, the concentrating solar power (CSP) player with a tortoise problem, filed for a $250 million IPO.  

General Electric
and other private equity firms are bidding for Swiss smart metering company Landis+Gyr in an auction that could reach as much as $2 billion, Reuters reported. Landis+Gyr competes with companies such as Itron (ITRI.O).  

In a mammoth utility merger, Exelon announced it would buy Constellation Energy to form a utility that will span 38 states, parts of Canada and the District of Columbia. 

CIGS solar aspirant Nanosolar re-entered the media fray with a new attitude(?) and a one-gigawatt solar panel supply announcement.

MiaSolé, another CIGS thin-film PV aspirant, aligned with one of the world’s strongest manufacturers, Intel. 


Amidst all that action were some announcements in the world of concentrating photovoltaics (CPV) that might have gotten lost in the shuffle.

San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) and Soitec Solar Development signed contracts with a combined capacity of 30 megawatts of CPV solar power at three solar power plant sites in San Diego County that will use Soitec CPV modules manufactured in a factory to be built in the San Diego area.  In previous conversations with Hansjörg Lerchenmüller, the boss of Soitec’s CPV unit, we learned that the factory, as well as their 150-megawatt Tenaska project hinges on a U.S. DOE loan guarantee, as yet unfinalized. 

Chevron Mining began operation of a one-megawatt, 20-acre, 173-solar tracker installation on the tailing site of CMI's molybdenum mine in Questa, New Mexico.  CPV systems were provided by Soitec. A beautifully produced video of the CPV site in northern New Mexico can be viewed here.

Amonix in partnership with the University of Arizona’s Solar Zone and Tucson Electric Power unveiled a 2-megawatt (AC) power plant powered by 36 CPV solar power systems. Granite Construction installed half a megawatt per day after the pedestals were sunk.   

SolFocus completed a 420-kilowatt CPV installation for The City of Coachella at the City of Coachella Water Reclamation Plant.  The installation was developed by Johnson Controls and Solar Power Partners (SPP) using 55 SolFocus CPV systems. The installation will offset 40 percent of the reclamation plant’s daytime energy consumption and was built on disturbed land which had limited potential use. This announcement comes on the heels of SolFocus' recent 1-megawatt pistachio farm announcement, a project developed with Bechtel.  

Elsewhere in recent CPV happenings, Solar Junction announced their new 43.5 percent efficiency record for a triple-junction solar cell and an imminent close on a $30M funding round. 

Ed Gunther's parking lot sleuthing has GreenVolts, a once-promising CPV player, still bustling. The firm does not appear to be speaking to the press at this time.

A different focus on CPV from REhnu

Soliant's rooftop CPV bought by Emcore

It looks like 2011 and 2012 could be the break-out years for utility-scale CPV solar after a decade of promises and false starts.