Granite Construction completes 1.2 MWp installation using Solar Frontier modules

[Coalinga, California USA]

The 8 acre (~3,2 hectare) solar system also includes innovations from eIQ Energy, Siemens, and Unirac.
I stumbled on the solar system under construction back in June.


View Chevron BrightSource Solar-to-Steam Demonstration Plant in a larger map

Just a construction aggregate’s throw over the Coalinga pit from the Chevron BrightSource Solar-to-Steam Demonstration Plant, Granite Construction Inc. (NYSE:GVA) cut the ribbon on a 1.2 MWp (MegaWatt-peak) solar installation on Friday, October 14, 2011, with “Granite is Early Adopter of Global Warming Solutions Act”. As “a voluntary early adopter of California’s Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32),” Granite Construction said: “The installation will reduce the facility’s carbon footprint by more than 50 percent”.

Per The Business Journal in “Solar system unveiled at Coalinga aggregate plant”, the 1.2 MWp (MegaWatt-peak) solar system uses 13167 Solar Frontier CIS (Copper Indium Selenium) thin film photovoltaic (PV) modules. Simple division results in 91.1 Watts per module confirming the SF85-US-B module label I photographed and perhaps accounting for light soaking.

From Granite 1.2 MWp Solar Frontier System

Coalinga at the solar crossroads
I noticed the Granite installation after my first ground visit to the Chevron BrightSource project the week before the In Search of the Chevron BrightSource Solar-to-Steam Demonstration Plant flyover. Since it was behind a privacy fence, like anything solar in Coalinga, I thought this was a completed PV installation. When I investigated, all I found were empty PV ground mounts as shown in the Picasa slideshow. I now know these are Unirac ISYS Ground 2.0 mounts.

Back home, a quick search identified the project as a Solar Frontier installation. After an exchange, I said to the Solar Frontier spokesperson:

The site was odd since all the racks are built. I did not see any electrical or a single module. [two photos attached]
I was wondering if there was a delay in delivering the modules?

In response, the spokesperson said:

I’ve confirmed with Solar Frontier that the modules were delivered to the Coalinga site in early March.

Well, I met with Solar Frontier at Intersolar North America and just did not get around to a post because of competing priorities and perceived effort. Of course, I stopped for a quick visit after my Chevron BrightSource Solar-to-Steam Demonstration Plant Trials Underway activities. Solar Frontier PV modules had begun to be installed although the electrical work was not advanced as can be seen in the second Picasa slideshow. Between thoughts of the Chevron BrightSource epiphany, the Solar Frontier ground mount installation dragging along, and my out of town visitor, I did not connect the stacks of shipping boxes with a distributed DC Maximum Power Point optimization solution even though eIQ Energy’s participation in the project had been announced earlier in “eIQ Energy’s Parallel Solar Technology Selected for 1.2-Megawatt Array at Granite Construction Facility”.

I returned to Coalinga for “Chevron Technology Ventures Launches World’s Largest Solar Enhanced-Oil-Recovery Project” in early October. As shown in the third Picasa slideshow, the solar installation had advanced though work remained before completion. From the photos, a distributed power electronics solution was as clear as day, but my priority was another Chevron BrightSource post, at least until I saw “eIQ Energy Enables Largest-Ever Solar System with Distributed Electronics at Granite Construction’s Coalinga, Calif. Facility”.

eIQ Energy
From eIQ Energy Vice President, Business Development,
Michael Lamb, I understand the Coalinga installation uses one (1) vBoost 350, 350-watt DC-to-DC converter module, for every four (4) Solar Frontier SF85-US-B modules in their parallel solar architecture. Here is an eIQ Energy informational (sales?) YouTube video with glimpses of the Coalinga installation. I am in a constructive mood on the eve of Solar Power International 2011.

Per “Siemens Awarded 1 MW Solar PV Installation” last year, Siemens AG (NYSE:SI) won the inverter contract supplying the Sinvert PVS1051 UL inverter along “with an integrated e-house solution and a transformer.

It is very strange for me to visit a solar installation and be on the other side of the fence like I was recently at the Chevron Solar-to-Steam Demonstration Plant.

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