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Solar Tech Outlook

Manufacturers scale up for utility applications.

Fortnightly Magazine - July 2010

Southwest. Our first U.S. project is the Ivanpah Solar Power Complex, located in eastern San Bernardino County, Calif.

The project will produce approximately 400 MW of power, roughly one sixth of the 2,610 MW of contracts we have with PG&E and Southern California Edison. We expect to receive final permits this summer and begin construction in the fall. Ivanpah will be the first commercial-scale solar thermal power plant constructed in California in nearly two decades. Once constructed, Ivanpah will represent the world’s largest solar energy project, nearly doubling the amount of solar thermal electricity produced in the U.S. today. It will also nearly double the amount of photovoltaic rooftops installed in 2009.

The Ivanpah complex will consist of three individual power plants that will collectively produce enough solar power to meet the demand of more than 140,000 California homes and reduce CO 2 emissions by more than 400,000 tons a year. The first plant could be constructed and supplying power as soon as the end of 2012, with the other two plants constructed and put into operation as soon as possible. The three plants at Ivanpah will be the first of 14 plants we will build by 2016 to provide power to our customers Pacific Gas & Electric and Southern California Edison.

The project will provide 1,000 union jobs at the peak of construction, and earnings of more than $650 million over its 30-year lifecycle. It will also produce $400 million in local and state tax revenues over its 30-year lifecycle.

King, Canadian Solar: We just completed a solar farm in Italy, bringing utility-scale solar power to the Umbria region, and we have numerous projects installed around the globe from a 3.5-MW solar array in Germany to a 15-MW installation in Mahora, Spain. Canadian Solar is currently involved in the bidding and design process of several hundred megawatts of utility-scale projects in the United States with a group of high-quality EPC companies.

Kuran, Petra Solar: In addition to our $200 million contract with New Jersey’s PSE&G, Petra Solar is also engaged with more than 40 other utilities around the country and the world that are interested in our pole-mounted, distributed solar generation model. Right now, we have demonstration projects with utilities in New Jersey, Florida, Texas, Hawaii, Ohio, New York, and Ontario, Canada. Many other locations will be announced soon.

MacDonald, Skyline Solar: We have bid on three projects in the Western United States. We have also been approved for Phase 1 of the DOE loan guarantee program and are currently completing our Phase 2 application.

Gillette, First Solar: Under development right now, we have nearly 2,000 MW of projects: 155 MW in Canada; 48 MW in Nevada; 52 MW in New Mexico; 1,630 MW in California; and 30 MW in China, with plans for 2,000 MW.


Fortnightly: What primary technology challenges affect the performance and cost of utility-scale solar generating facilities?

Gillette, First Solar: Many believe that the primary challenge for utility-scale solar is intermittency or the variable nature of solar energy electricity production. But with the right investments in