Soitec bags $25 million for California solar factory

French solar manufacturer Soitec has secured a $25 million grant from the US government to support a new concentrated solar manufacturing facility in San Diego, California.

The new factory will enable a manufacturing capacity of 200 MW of Soitec’s concentrator photovoltaic (CPV) modules, and will be the world’s largest CPV manufacturing facility, the company said. Construction is currently underway, and the first phase is scheduled to be operational by the fourth quarter of 2012.

Soitec hopes that the high volumes produced by the $150 million facility will allow it to serve the southern California and the American Southwest and ultimately support export opportunities around the Pacific Rim.

The grant, from the US Department of Energy, forms part of the government’s Sunpath initiative, which seeks to increase the US’ manufacturing competitiveness in the global solar market.

“This Sunpath award will accelerate the production and output of Soitec’s first large-scale CPV module manufacturing facility in San Diego,” said Clark Crawford, Soitec’s vice president of USA sales.

According to Soitec, its Concentrix CPV modules provide 30% module efficiency, 2 to 3 times the efficiency of conventional PV technology. Designed specifically for sunny regions, CPV technology generates power with concentrator optics and high-efficiency solar cells.

“The decision of the DOE to award Soitec with the largest share of the SUNPATH award provides a strong endorsement of our CPV technology,” said Gaetan Borgers, of Soitec Solar Energy Division. “The Sunpath award adds support to our view that CPV is bestsuited for regions with extremely hot ambient temperatures and dry weather conditions like the American Southwest."

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