In Search of GreenVolts GV1

[Byron, California USA]


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Interconnected and waiting for approval to flip the switch.
But on how much photovoltaic capacity?

Two weekends ago, I made an impromptu visit to the GreenVolts, Inc., GV1 site located in Byron, California USA, as shown in the above Google Map. Following over one month later in the foot steps of Matt Nauman, author of “GreenVolts: something new under the sun near Tracy”, I expected to see significant progress on the first 1 MW (MegaWatt) phase of the 2 MW HCPV (High Concentration PhotoVoltaics) project. Instead I was disappointed.

After passing the site on Kelso Road, I thought this must be it, but I wasn’t positive. I was only able to reconfirm the location across from the Western Area Power Administration’s Tracy Substation after consulting the Mitigated Negative Declaration and Initial Study (MND/IS) at the GreenVolts webpage maintained by the Alameda County Community Development Agency Planning Department:

My GreenVolts GV1 site photos can be viewed in the above Picasa slideshow. While a trailer and shipping containers obstructed the view, in my opinion, the only possible location for completed CarouSol units was towards the right center of the property behind a short wall. I could not see any mirrors among the many trackers from the public Kelso Road.

GreenVolts was unwilling to disclose the current or planned year end 2008 capacity expected for interconnection. It appears the installed capacity may remain as Matt Nauman reported:

So far, mirrors and solar cells have been installed on a handful of trackers, enough to generate 18 kilowatts of electricity.

Or perhaps five to six CarouSol units rated at 3 to 3.5 kWp (kiloWatt-peak) system capacity each?

Earlier this year at BIG Solar, GreenVolts delayed the 1 MW Phase 1 completion schedule to year end 2008. This goal was reiterated (please see “GreenVolts breaks ground on America’s largest HCPV power plant” by Garrett Hering with PHOTON International, for example) until October 2008 at Solar Power International when Phase 1 completion slipped to an indeterminate date in 2009.

Per GreenVolts, Phase I was planned and on target for completion this year, but the company decided to scale back the 2008 deployment for two reasons:

  • Cautious use of financial resources during the challenging macroeconomic environment.
  • Module improvements yielding potential efficiency gains.

Since GreenVolts has a 20-year PPA (Power Purchase Agreement) with PG&E Corporation (NYSE:PCG), it does make sense for them to maximize their system power generation. However, the delay may also signal a glitch in the improved power unit module development or production.

GreenVolts had better hurry in 2009 before another CPV project usurps their leap to the largest III-V Multijunction Terrestrial Solar Cell module installation worldwide by a single company.

In early 2009, I am hoping for a proper site tour of the GV1 project to clear up the above points. At least that’s my intention; it is not a resolution.

Check out the GreenVolts label for prior posts about the company.

4 comments

  1. SunFish says:

    Another demonstration that a company’s hype about kw generation is not always reality. Nameplate Capacity is one thing….if every variable in the value chain is effective and efficient,…actual Run Rate Capacity is another.

  2. Delwyn Lounsbury says:

    Site is cleared of all equipment and the considerable solar installation that had already been done. All locked up.& vacant.
    Did they cancel project and go out of business?

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