Posted tagged ‘solfocus’

SolFocus Installs First Solar Array for 3 MW Spanish CPV Project

January 17, 2008

SolFocus, manufacturer of solar energy solutions including concentrator photovoltaic (CPV) systems and Spain‘s Institute of Concentration Photovoltaics Systems (ISFOC) announced two days ago the installation of the first CPV array in the ISFOC’s 3 MW project in Castilla-LaMancha.




SolFocus CPV Array installed at ISFOC power field in Puertollano, Spain. (Courtesy of SolFocus)



The ISFOC project is sponsored by the government of Castilla-La Mancha. Its program supports participating companies by carrying out important R&D efforts on their installed systems. This includes studies and norms, developments on measurement technology for large systems, reliability testing, maintenance, and analysis of solar radiation and energy produced.

The companies awarded the first 1.7MW phase of CPV pilot plants were Isofoton (Spain – 700kW), SolFocus (US – 500kW), and Concentrix (Germany – 500kW).


800_sol3g.jpgIn November 2007 a 1,3 MW second phase to complete the program was awarded to Sol3g (Spain – 400kW) and Concentración Solar La Mancha (Spain), EMCORE Corp. (US) and Arima Eco (Taiwan) – 300kW each.


HCPV System by Sol3g, another of the companies working in Castilla-La Mancha with ISFOC

According to Dr. Pedro Banda, Director General of the ISFOC, “This is a very important occasion as it brings the industry one step closer towards commercial deployment of CPV technologies. For this unprecedented and ambitious program, the ISFOC has selected CPV technologies that are the most advanced and have the brightest futures.” He added, “SolFocus’ first installation marks the official launch of the power-generation phase of the program.”

SolFocus, with European headquarters in Madrid and United States headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., has over 40kW of test arrays installed at various sites.

The ISFOC was established in 2006 to be a center of reference on the power, reliability and productivity of commercial CPV systems. The innovative approach taken by the ISFOC is becoming a model for similar projects under consideration around the world.




Growth in the Spanish solar market exceeds expectations

October 30, 2007

Feed-in tariffs in Spain, initiated in 2004 to reach the European Union’s goal of increasing renewable energy use to 20 percent by 2020, guarantee energy produced by from renewable resources will be bought by local utilities at three times the normal market value for 25 years. The Spanish utilities have the obligation of giving renewable energy companies a connection point to the grid.

According to Reuters, these incentives have been instrumental for the growth of photovoltaic solar power plants in Spain, that is exceeding the government’s expectations. With the current momentum, Spain will be over its target for 2010 of 400 megawatts (MW) of photovoltaic (PV) power by next summer. By that time, the actual installed capacity might be somewhere between 800 MW and 1,200 MW, according to the Ministry of Industry.

At 1,200 MW, PV power would still only account for 0.4 percent of total power, so there is still a long way to go. Another weak spot in the market is the low penetration of small installations in homes, with big plants – from one to 25 megawatts – being far more typical.

Industry Ministry officials said that once there are 1,200 MW of PV solar power, the tariff rate will be reduced by 5 percent each year. Investors and politicians are optimistic that in six years the incentives will no longer be necessary. Costs are expected to fall as competition spawns cheaper, more efficient solar technologies allowing firms in the sector to sustain themselves at normal market prices, they say.

Originally uploaded by Steven2358

But it is not just photovoltaics, the solar market is expanding accross the board. In the last months, we have seen a non-stop string of announcements of projects and deals:

Deals and solar plants:

Who: Sunpower Corp. (PV, US), with financing from AIG Financial products (US) and 360 Corporate (Spain)
What: 18-megawatt solar electric power plant
Where: Olivenza (Badajoz province, Extremadura)
Generation: more than 32 million kilowatt-hours of power per year

Who: ICP Solar Technologies Inc. (Montreal, Canada)
What: agreement to provide US$ 770,284 in solar modules to Tejasol (Spain) in Spain, with a view to open offices in Madrid and pending orders amounting to US$ 18.5 million.

Who: Solel Solar Systems (Israel) and Sacyr-Vallehermoso Group (Spain)
What: agreement to build three solar thermal power plants
Total capacity: 150MW
Investment: US$890 million

Who: Solar parks of Extremadura, formed by Ecoenergías (Spain) and Deutsche Bank (Germany)
What: 40 MW solar plant by the name of Merida Solar 2008
Investment: 300 million euros (430.6 million dollars)
Generation: 72,3 GWh per year (for the needs of around 80,000 people, approx.)
Where: Valverde (Extremadura)

Who: City Solar (PV, Germany)
What: Three solar plants with a total nominal power of 26 MW between them
Where: Castile-La Mancha and Extremadura

Manufacturing plant openings and expansions

Who: Schott (solar panels and solar receivers, Germany)
What: a manufacturing facility for solar receivers (their second in Spain)
Where: Seville (Southern Spain)
Investment: approximately $28 million

Who: Conergy (PV, Germany)
What: solar PV structures manufacturing plant
Where: Daganzo (Madrid)

Who: SolFocus (Concentrating photovoltaics, US)
What: European Headquarters covering business development, marketing, engineering, R&D and field work for the European markets.
Where: Daganzo (Madrid)

A telling fact of the rapid expansion of the solar energy industry worldwide is how several of these companies have almost simultaneously announced parallel projects in another hot market, the United States. For example, Solel is developing the Mojave solar park for PG&E, a huge project (553 MW) and Schott (as recently covered) is also opening a US plan in California.

The US-Spain connection in renewable energy

August 4, 2007

The Wall Street Journal reflected recently on how some of Spain’s biggest renewable-energy companies have been planting their flag in the U.S., with big deals by utility Iberdrola, energy conglomerate Acciona, and wind turbine maker Gamesa.

On the wind side, Acciona announced last month it has acquired exclusive rights to develop 1300MW worth of wind assets in the states of Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin, USA. The development will take place through an acquisition of projects from EcoEnergy, LLC, an alternative energy solutions developer. Acciona expects to install approximately 150MW or more in 2008 from this pipeline. It will be supplying its own wind turbines for each of these development projects from its new US production facility in Iowa.

As a another proof it has been busy this summer, Acciona also announced another deal, this time in solar power. It secured $266 million in financing from Spanish and Portuguese banks for its Solar One project in Nevada, the world’s third-largest solar plant.

As for Gamesa Energy USA, it could have as much as 1500 MW installed in the US by 2010. It has 8 wind farms in different stages of completion, 2 of them in Wisconsin and a further two in North Western Illinois.

The string of acquisitions by the third musketeer, Iberdrola, has been well covered here, and elsewhere, the latest of which being the purchase of the New York based utility Energy East.

But proving that the flurry of deals and acquisitions is a two way street, the US solar technology company SolFocus Inc., Mountain View, Ca., has announced it has reached an agreement to acquire a Spanish company called InSpira specializing in a key technology that makes solar power more efficient.

061115.jpg HPCV system by Inspira and Daido Steel

Madrid-based InSpira makes solar trackers, mechanical telescopic arms that follow the sun across the sky and focus the sun’s rays onto all sorts of solar power devices, making them more efficient. Trackers can boost yields by 40% — a huge difference when most commercial solar panels only get between 10% and 25% of the sun’s energy. Trackers are especially crucial to the most advanced kind of solar power devices, known as concentrators: if the sun’s rays are off by more than 1-2 degrees, no power is generated.

According to Keith Johnson, from WSJ, the strategy of SolFocus chief executive Gary Conley with this deal is to kill two birds with one stone. He will get access to a leading maker of tracker technology, boosting SolFocus’ bid to make cost-efficient solar power, though he vows to honor InSpira’s supply deals with rivals such as Germany’s Concentrix Solar GMBH. He will also get a bridgehead in Europe, where subsidies and government support for solar power and other renewable energies are far ahead of the U.S. (See here our previous post on the activities of SolFocus in Spain)

Taming the wind and sun

May 19, 2007


Molinos de viento Windmills in La Mancha (Both the old and new varieties)

Originally uploaded by Zilargile (Top) and Strawjam (Bottom)

Everyone that has heard about La Mancha, knows from the musical and the Quixote novel that it is a sun-drenched land of windmills that might be giants (or not).

With all that sun and wind, the thinking of the locals seems to have been”If we got them, let´s put them to good use! ”

Correspondingly, the landscape in the region is dotted here and there with the iconic modern version of the windmills, that make a stellar appearance in the movie “Volver” by Almodovar.

Trying to profit from the other natural resource in abundance in the area, regional authorities are pushing forward an ambitious plan to boost solar energy. Besides the plants mentioned in my previous posts in Puertollano (solar thermal power), the city is the site for the Institute of Concentration Photovoltaic Systems or ISFOC (website in Spanish only).

The Institute launched a RFP for the development of plants using Concentrator Photovoltaic (CPV) technologies for a total capacity of 2.7 MW. The companies selected to build the plants are:

logo-foton.gif Guascor Foton (Spain/US, 300 KW)

images1.jpg Concentrix (Germany, 500 KW)

images2.jpg SolFocus (US, 500 KW)

isofoton.jpg Isofoton (Spain, 700 KW)

These commercial plants are going to be grid-connected and sited in different provinces of the region of Castile-La Mancha. The headquarters of ISFOC will house demonstration plants (200 KW) for each of the technologies employed in the commercial plants.

Concentrator Photovoltaic systems are experiencing a very interesting moment worldwide, with record gains in efficiency by Spectrolab (Boeing) and many companies taking their products to market. Spectrolab has an agreement with Solar Systems (Australia) to provide it with 500,000 concentrator solar cell assemblies to be used in remote rural communities.

Guascor Foton is one of the pioneers in Europe in this technology, the development of which stems from a partnership with the American company Amonix. Guascor Foton installed the first commercial high concentration CPV plant in Europe at the campus of the upm.jpgPolytechnic University of Madrid. This project was developed in collaboration with the Institute of Solar Energy from the UPM and the Spanish Government Agency for Energy Diversification (IDAE).

Concentrator PV system on tracking unit built by Guascor Fotón at the UPM

The company is also working in three aditional solar plants using the same technology with a joint capacity of 3.5 MW in different parts of Spain.