CIGS Photovoltaic Parking Survey – Part 3

[Silicon Valley, California, and Portland, Oregon USA]

MiaSolé wins, and NuvoSun surprises.

Encouraged by comments, I’ve been planning to conduct a third CIGS (copper indium gallium diselenide) photovoltaic (PV) parking lot survey for a while. The first Friday of March aligned with a weekend trip to Portland and a bonus cross state survey. Starting in Silicon Valley, I surveyed the local CIGS start-ups in the PV Poll and the downtrodden as shown in the updated Google Map.


View CIGS Photovoltaic Silicon Valley in a larger map

Once again, in reverse numerical order, here are the survey results ranked only by the automotive hardware present in each company’s respective parking lots. Please note the photos are representative and may not show or have captured every vehicle present.

From CIGS Photovoltaic Parking Survey – Part 3

8. Solyndra
I just had to revisit the two-time winner of the CIGS parking survey. The Fab 2 parking lot was overgrown with trees and vegetation making it hard to get an accurate car count. I don’t know if this was by the original design or from neglect.

While the building is up for sale, I don’t believe all the manufacturing equipment was sold at the last auction. “Solyndra Wins Approval to Pay Bonuses to Remaining Employees” by Michael Bathon at Bloomberg.com mentions a “June 30 Deadline” for the “Auctions of the company’s assets, excluding real estate and intellectual property”.

The Solyndra signs are still on the Fab 1, Fab 2, and Page Avenue buildings.

7. First Solar skunk works
I took a quick swing by the First Solar, Inc. (NASDAQ:FSLR) CIGS skunk works in Santa Clara to confirm the shuttered status myself. Although I did not take photos, I found cars numbering in the teens, open bay doors, and a tractor-trailer, perhaps in preparation for equipment shipments? Will First Solar ship the CIGS pilot production equipment to the Mesa facility and mothball it? Would there be any repercussions to the California SB 71 Sales and Use Tax Exclusion received by First Solar?

From CIGS Photovoltaic Parking Survey – Part 3

6. AQT Solar
Located on a back road near the Lawrence Caltrain station, there was nothing subtle or stealthy about my photo taking outside the AQT Solar headquarters. AQT Solar raised $18.7M of Series B funds in January and caused a stir by announcing plans to move from CIGS to commercialize CZTS (CuZnSnS4) or copper zinc tin sulfide based solar cells in 2013.

From CIGS Photovoltaic Parking Survey – Part 3

5. NuvoSun
NuvoSun, Inc. surprised with a large staff unexpected for the CIGS start-up company with a China centric equipment and manufacturing strategy. NuvoSun President and CEO Dave Pearce presented “A roadmap to $0.50/Watt PV modules” last August to the Silicon Valley Photovoltaics Society or SVPVS, now officially known as the IEEE Santa Clara Valley PhotoVoltaic Joint Society Chapter (IEEE-SCV-PV).

From CIGS Photovoltaic Parking Survey – Part 3

4. SoloPower
In San Jose, SoloPower was flat compared to prior observations. This can be considered an accomplishment in these challenging times for the PV industry.

From CIGS Photovoltaic Parking Survey – Part 3

However, I was able to continue the survey at the new SoloPower manufacturing facility (Google Map) being built out in Portland, Oregon USA. I only had a rough idea where the facility was located in the Rivergate Industrial District of the Port of Portland, but a fortuitous wrong turn brought me straight to the site.

From CIGS Photovoltaic Parking Survey – Part 3

On Saturday, a welding crew was completing the installation of an Evapco, Inc. AT Cooling Tower. A few open bay doors did not reveal much manufacturing equipment. Wednesday last week per “Solar cell maker needs workers for new Portland plant” by Bill Roberson for KATU News, SoloPower was accepting employment applications for the manufacturing facility at a regional career expo.

From CIGS Photovoltaic Parking Survey – Part 3

3. Stion
After a recount, Stion Corporation edged SoloPower in the survey. Of course, Stion is ramping a manufacturing site outside of California in Hattiesburg, Mississippi USA. At PHOTON’s 4th Thin Film Conference in San Francisco, Stion said the first 100 MW (MegaWatt) line was ramping to scale, and the first commercial shipments are planned for 1Q12.

From CIGS Photovoltaic Parking Survey – Part 3

2. Nanosolar
The only surprise at Nanosolar, Inc. was the significant reduction in vehicles from prior surveys and ad hoc observations. I don’t know if the shift was the result of December 2011 layoffs or gradual reductions. The burn rate appears to have been aligned with the recent capital raise of $20 Million and the promotion of Eugenia Corrales to Nanosolar CEO.

From CIGS Photovoltaic Parking Survey – Part 3

1. MiaSolé
Since the unfair Sunday after Thanksgiving survey, MiaSolé has jumped three positions to first place. Across two buildings, the Santa Clara headquarters and the Sunnyvale module manufacturing site, MiaSolé was a nexus of activity even late on a Friday afternoon. Also at PHOTON’s 4th Thin Film Conference, MiaSolé said their manufacturing capacity expansion to 150 MW would be completed by the end of 1Q12, and the 100 MW of potential CIGS modules produced in 2012 would be determined by market conditions. The corresponding MiaSolé slides are at Greentech Media or the full presentation can be downloaded from the IEEE-SCV-PV website.

From CIGS Photovoltaic Parking Survey – Part 3

Can MiaSolé handle the burn rate of being ranked number one? The $55 Million in funding closed by MiaSolé last week will help. I’ll prognosticate MiaSolé will need to realign operations if module production falls short of 100 MW in 2012.

Not long after MiaSolé donates Photovoltaic Modules to the City of Santa Clara, MiaSolé press contact Ben Williams was replaced on the website. And the MiaSolé headquarters does have a sign again!

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One comment

  1. Anonymous says:

    AQT Solar has laid off half it’s workforce and is looking for investors or a buyer .

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