|From SolFocus 8.4kW SF-1100S-CPV-28 system|
“GreenWing Energy signs agreement with SolFocus for utility scale deployments of CPV” by Emma Hughes at PV-tech.org echoed my concerns when I first saw this announcement:
Financial details of the agreement, location of the projects, and timing of the developments were not disclosed.
This agreement is a MegaWatt huge milestone for CPV. GreenWing’s intent to develop “utility-scale projects (20-300MW) and larger distributed generation applications (1-20MW)” represents a multiple to order of magnitude increase in CPV installations.
However, GreenWing Energy Management Ltd. is a successful utility scale wind power developer and new to solar projects. Somehow, this reminded me of the EMCORE Corporation (NASDAQ:EMKR) “signs a memorandum of understanding with SunPeak Solar to supply up to 700 megawatt over multiple years” deal gone awry.
EMCORE is no SolFocus, so I knew further investigation was required. After talking with SolFocus, I also succeeded in getting a few key questions answered by Matt Penry with GreenWing Energy.
Q & A with Matt Penry, GreenWing Energy Vice President of Project Development
Q: Why has GreenWing decided to direct efforts to developing solar projects? Your company is not experienced with PV development.
A: We are experienced in developing many generation technologies including hydro, coal, combustion turbine, geothermal and wind, so we are very familiar with the commercial and technical aspects of power generation, including solar. With a focus on renewables, it is a natural extension for us to apply our expertise forward into solar.
Q: Why announce the agreement without a specific project? When do you expect to announce the first project?
A: This event (the signing of the MOU) represents an opportunity to communicate the benefits of the SolFocus CPV technology in particular and PV technology in general regarding the cost reduction curve they are on plus the several environmental benefits they provide. We are developing several sites suitable for both CPV and PV and will announce them at the appropriate time for each one.
Q: What is the nature of your agreement with SolFocus? Is this a supply contact with specific terms or an MOU?
A: The press release announces an MOU, the public details of which are all covered in the press release.
Q: Why choose CPV instead of crystalline silicon or thin film technologies? CPV is still more expensive on an LCOE basis than other PV technologies. I observe monocrystalline silicon solar panels can also be mounted on pedestal trackers.
A: CPV represents a technical advancement with a number of advantages for our sites. Likewise, it provides the opportunity for a steep cost reduction curve that should make it competitive with other technologies. We will also continue to look at new technologies as well as traditional crystalline PV, plus the use of single and dual axis trackers as appropriate for each technology.
Q: Will you develop these project(s) on public or private lands? Pristine or disturbed?
A: We are developing on the most appropriate sites for these projects.
Per their website, “GreenWing is developing solar project sites in Nevada, Arizona and California which are suitable for the deployment of utility-scale PV solar power.”
I understand plans for a pilot project are being finalized and expected to be brought to a close in the near term. I guess it is wait and see until then.
I asked folks at the Palo Alto Regional Water Quality Control Plant if I could get closer to take photos of the SolFocus 8.4 kW (kilowatt) SF-1100 System installation. Well informed, they declined citing an understanding with SolFocus not to permit photos. I had to settle for the above photo from outside the entrance.