VVC installing SolFocus CPV Solar Plant

Victor Valley College (VVC) invests $4.66 Million in a Solar Generating Facility.
The 1 MegaWatt (MW) Concentrator Photovoltaic (CPV) system has an installed cost of $4.66 per AC Watt and will deliver electricity at 8.5 cents per kiloWatt-hour before incentives.

From 1MW Concentrating Photovoltaic installation at VVC, Photo Credit: SolFocus, Inc.

VVC builds innovative solar energy facility” by Natasha Lindstrom for the Victorville Daily Press broke the story before the SolFocus, Inc. press release, “Victor Valley College Goes Solar with SolFocus Power Plant”, took it mainstream.

The Victor Valley College solar plant will consist of 122 SF-1100S-CPV-28 8.4 kW (kiloWatt) SolFocus CPV Systems covering six (6) acres on the northeast corner of the main campus. The CPV plant will have a system capacity of 1024 kWp (kiloWatt-peak) DC (Direct Current) or 999.3 kWp AC (Alternating Current) accounting for DC to AC inverter conversion losses.

From SolFocus, I understand the installation will use two (2) 500 kW SatCon Technology Corporation (NASDAQ:SATC) inverters plus a smaller Satcon inverter to harvest any peak energy generated. By keeping the system capacity below 1 MegaWatt AC, the VVC solar plant is eligible for the Performance Based Incentive (PBI) of the California Solar Initiative (CSI).

While a cumulative 54.7 million kWh (kiloWatt-hours) should be generated over 25 years, the CPV plant has been guaranteed to produce 2421900 kWh of annual electricity, almost one third of VVC demand, over the first five (5) years or 90% of expected energy production. gkkworks Program Manager Al McQuilkin said the guarantee is based on the Direct Normal Irradiance (DNI) over the period using a methodology outlined in the contract. In the event of a generation shortfall, SolFocus has the option to add capacity or provide monetary compensation. Mr. McQuilkin anticipates the CPV plant will exceed the guarantee due to the location’s sunny high elevation and cool winters.

From 1MW Concentrating Photovoltaic installation at VVC, Photo Credit: SolFocus, Inc.

SolFocus had the best proposal
After issuing a Request for Best & Final Proposal (BAFP) to firms who submitted prior proposals, the Measure JJ Bond
Program Status Report – December 2009 issued by the Citizens’ Bond Oversight Committee said:

A selection committee conducted interviews of all five proposers and completed a “best value” evaluation. The best value scoring, which included technical and price criteria, resulted in SolFocus, Inc. being the number one ranked proposer.

SolFocus’ proposal provides the District with the latest advanced technology, dual-axis, concentrator PV, coupled with the best price/performance ratio and the lowest installed cost.

The guaranteed output from SolFocus’ system will achieve well over $20 million in savings over 25 years. The system will generate almost $4 million in incentives from the California Solar Initiative and an additional $2 million in avoided cost, tariff and renewable energy credit savings in the first 5 years.

The SolFocus proposal beat out five other companies with 8.5 cents per kWh, I assume on an LCOE (Levelized Cost of Energy) basis, before incentives over the 25 year system life. In addition, the 1 MegaWatt AC system will earn a Performance Based Incentive of $0.32 per kWh or almost $4 Million over the first five (5) years via the CSI program administered by Edison International (NYSE:EIX) subsidiary Southern California Edison (SCE).

After factoring in the PBI, the CPV plant generates electricity over 25 years at a net cost of 1.5 cents per kiloWatt-hour!

Samaras Update
Concentrating Photovoltaic Project Under Way at California Collegeby Todd Woody for the New York Times Green Inc. Blog said:

Ms. Hartsoch said SolFocus also has two other megawatt-size power plants undergoing permitting in the desert that have not yet been announced.

Last year, the company signed a deal to install 10 megawatts of its solar arrays in Greece.

Around the time of the VVC announcement, Nancy Hartsoch said not a lot had changed with regard to the Samaras project although there had been progress in recent weeks, and SolFocus was hopeful the project would begin at select sites in the second quarter of 2010.

Climate deniers or vandals at work?
Per “
Solar panels catch fire at VVC” by Natasha Lindstrom for the Victorville Daily Press, a fire destroyed four (4) boxes of SolFocus SF-1100S CPV panels on Friday morning, March 19, 2010 (photo). I hear the panel shipping boxes were tampered with before catching fire so the cause is suspicious. Site security has been beefed up to prevent a recurrence.

And that’s no April Fools’ matter.


  1. AK says:

    LCOE of 8.5c/kwh seems attractive, what was SolFocus cost for this project?

  2. Skeptic says:

    Gunther, can you please explain how you got to your LCOE number? 8.5c/kWh sounds too low to be believable, especially considering the last we heard a SolFocus system is around $6/W installed.

  3. Edgar A. Gunther says:

    The numbers are based on analysis by gkkworks. The installed cost (price) is based on public info on what VVC paid. Check the Program Status Report.

    I think CPV is delivering on kWh in high DNI and leveraging a decent PBI incentive.

  4. Do you know the capacity factor and the discount rate used in the LCOE computation?

    If a reader has the $/kW (stated), discount rate (assume 8%), capacity factor (missing) and projected years of operation (stated) one can use my worksheet “A Financial Worksheet for Computing the Cost (US¢/kWh) of Solar Electricity Generated at Grid Connected Photovoltaic (PV) Generating Plants” that was published in the Journal of Solar Energy Engineering, August, 2002, Vol. 124, Page 319.

    Your reporting is always very good. Thank you for your efforts.

  5. Skeptic2 says:

    LCOE is most definately not $0.085 / kWh, this is what you get if you take the first cost and divide that by energy production over 25 years (all stated in the article). Therefore this metric ignores all O&M costs including maintenance of high-precision 2-axis trackers, cleaning and inverter replacements and it ignores the cost of capital. Degradation rate also seems suspect.

  6. skeptic3 says:

    LCOE here would be at least 16 cents per kWh

  7. LCOEnut says:

    8 cent LCOE is very reachable with CPV. The biggest levers here in the math model are. 1. System price 2. Energy production 3. MACRs depriciation 4. PBI and fed ITC. Because ~ 2300 kW/kW is realized with CPV-2axis (most likely before shading losses), the system price can hover around 4-5 $/Wstc and still give low LCOE. The real concerns are. 1. the real O&M cost vs predicted and 2.Tracking errors. 3. predicted soiling vs. actual.

    It’s unfortunate that holes in the boxes allow off axis light to be focused back on the box at ~500x and start fires. By the way this can happen with any high concentration reflector system, CSP, etc. I’m sure SolFocus and others will solve this issue. I’m confident that CPV technology is safe and will dominate in the right geographies.

  8. admin says:

    REW: “Coming into Focus: Are Concentrating PV Players Finally Getting Respect?” by Ucilia Wang
    explains the 8.5 cents/kWh is gkkworks’ version of LCOE.

  9. MySchizoBuddy says:

    would be interesting to see their selection process and why Amonix wasn’t selected.

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