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Solyndra Gets Biggest Chunk of SCE's 250 MW Distributed Solar Project

Solyndra was the very first of the renewable energy companies funded through the (newly renewable energy-friendly) Department of Energy under Secretary Chu, who guaranteed a $535 million loan so Solyndra could build a factory to make its innovative cylindrical CIGS thin film solar modules. That factory is now due online this fall in the Bay Area’s Fremont, ahead of the original schedule.

Now Southern California Edison (SCE) has awarded Solyndra (through its subsidiary, Photon Solar) a bundle of 20-year power purchase agreements to build about 16 MW of rooftop PV systems distributed atop 15 commercial or industrial buildings in Southern California.


Solyndra’s subsidiary, Photon Solar will build the Solyndra systems, the largest being a 3 MW array on a commercial or industrial building in Buena Park. Seven of its 15 sites will be a megawatt or more. The start-up just completed their largest array to date, a 704 KW system on the LCS Industries building in New Jersey.

The company expects to triple its manufacturing output once the first 250MW of capacity ramps up. It has almost a billion in VC funding for its innovative easy-install tubular CIGS thin film modules.

SCE is the most renewably-powered of California’s three major utilities, and closest (at 18%) to reaching the first goal of 20% by 2010.

Like PG&E, the utility is meeting part of its renewable energy standard (RES) by utilizing distributed rooftop power in multiple small projects, because these can come on line faster – being easier to permit than larger (but more efficient) desert projects.

For example, having just awarded the contract, it is expected that the first of Solyndra/Photon Solar’s 15 mini projects will be online in six months, by January 2011, with the remaining sites plugging in by the end of the each of the subsequent three months.

By contrast, utility-scale desert solar projects take so many years and millions of dollars in environmental compliance, that it is uncertain if they are ever going to get permitted. With climate change beating on our door, California’s CPUC was smart to allow an escape clause.

The three utilities are allowed to include contracts to buy distributed renewable power to meet the RES. The hope is that, because rooftops are on already developed environments (buildings) that that could ease local permitting issues.

Of all the successful bidders for the 31 solar energy power purchase agreements for the first 50 MW approved with SCE, 26 are rooftop systems for a total of 37 MW. The remaining 23 MW are spread among 5 ground mounted systems. These 50 MW in distributed rooftop solar arrays is the first phase of a 250 MW project for SCE.

Image: Architectural Things

Source: PV Tech

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writes at CleanTechnica, CSP-Today and Renewable Energy World.  She has also been published at Wind Energy Update, Solar Plaza, Earthtechling PV-Insider , and GreenProphet, Ecoseed, NRDC OnEarth, MatterNetwork, Celsius, EnergyNow, and Scientific American. As a former serial entrepreneur in product design, Susan brings an innovator's perspective on inventing a carbon-constrained civilization: If necessity is the mother of invention, solving climate change is the mother of all necessities! As a lover of history and sci-fi, she enjoys chronicling the strange future we are creating in these interesting times.    Follow Susan on Twitter @dotcommodity.


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