Nanosolar surprises in CIGS Photovoltaic parking survey

[San Jose and Fremont, California USA]

Could Nanosolar be ramping production (at least a little)?
SoloPower and Solyndra also surveyed.

View CIGS Photovoltaic Silicon Valley in a larger map

These must be the dog days of summer if a CIGS (copper indium gallium diselenide) parking lot survey is all an “In Search of” series investigator could dredge up. I’ve seen a few signals pointing to Nanosolar, Inc. activity, so I decided a site survey was in order. A visit to SoloPower located around the corner was a logical extension, and Solyndra, Inc. completed the trifecta.

A virtual news blackout has descended upon Nanosolar since my post, “In Search of Nanosolar GmbH – Part 2”.

Citing the PHOTON article, “Nanosolar: No news from the world champion in blowing smoke,” “Nanosolar Broke Ground on 1MW Power Plant, Launched German Panel Factory” by Ucilia Wang at Greentech Media said:

At a Photon conference in San Francisco last December, the article said, Roscheisen announced that the start of mass production at Nanosolar’s panel assembly factory, also in Luckenwalde, would be delayed until March this year. Roscheisen was quoted to say that the company planned to “officially inaugurate our production on March 24 in Berlin.” Luckenwalde is just south of Berlin.

I noted the passing of the planned inauguration date without so much as a blurb in the local newspaper, the Märkische Allgemeine. In late May, sources led me to believe Nanosolar’s production was flat lined.

Nanosolar: Hype Down, Hiring Up” by Jennifer Kho for Earth2Tech kept Nanosolar on the radar screen, and I only just found the June 2009 Märkische Allgemeine article, “Eine Abkürzung aus Asphalt Verkehr NANOSOLAR baut neue Straße zur B 101 / Unternehmen plant Erweiterungen” by Gertraud Behrendt. The article discusses the construction of a new road (driveway) to the nearby German federal highway (Bundesstraße) B 101 so trucks making deliveries and solar module pickups at Nanosolar GmbH in Luckenwalde, Germany, can drive around the production facility and avoid backing up. Nanosolar GmbH goes on to claim they receive ten (10) to twenty (20) tractor trailers per week and expect this to become the daily rate sometime prompting expansion. Nanosolar GmbH also claims to be hiring, and people are starting to believe they are more real!

I’ve heard second hand that construction may have resumed on the 1 MWp (MegaWatt-peak) solar farm at the retired Luckenwalde landfill. Thus far, I have not succeeded in confirming the project status. The Luckenwalde city government has set up an information webpage with plans and conceptual photos for the 1MWp and 10 MWp Rieselfelder solar power plant projects at Zwei Solarkraftwerke in Luckenwalde (German only). It appears Beck Energy GmbH favors the wooden crossbar construction (Deutsch) technique.

From CIGS PV Silicon Valley Parking Survey

My visit to the Nanosolar San Jose facility impressed me as a nexus of activity. There was the hum of possible production in the air. Maybe it was just the external gas chillers? The front and side parking lots of the building were packed with cars. As I recall, Nanosolar is leasing 90000 (~8361 square meters) of the 204000 square feet at 5521 Hellyer Avenue, and I don’t believe there is a second tenant. I also observed Nanosolar folks taking scheduled breaks outside. Seven shipping containers were obvious in the back lot, but no trucks were seen during my brief survey.

From CIGS PV Silicon Valley Parking Survey

Even with recent management changes covered in “Thin Film Solar Startup SoloPower CEO Replaced With Investor” by Jennifer Kho at Earth2Tech, SoloPower had sufficient critical car mass to indicate the
20 MW (MegaWatt) pilot ramp may continue. The 109000 square foot (10126 square meter) SoloPower facility at Optical Court appeared much larger, perhaps because it is two stories tall.

From CIGS PV Silicon Valley Parking Survey

The Solyndra facility can be spied upon with ease whenever driving north on Route 880 from San Jose to Fremont. Solyndra has been raking in multiple $100 million plus sales contracts over the past few months, and “Solyndra Works on 1M Sq. Ft. Project in SoCal” by Ucilia Wang at Greentech Media said:

The CIGS startup is increasing its production rate to meet the demand of its customers, who have collectively signed about $2 billion worth of contracts. Solyndra is working on a project to install its cylinder-filled panels on one million square feet of rooftop space in Southern California, an executive said Thursday.

From CIGS PV Silicon Valley Parking Survey

Solyndra wins the CIGS parking survey by car count. Here again, I did not observe trucks arriving or leaving during my brief photo op (opportunity).

Have you seen the NanoSolar Rap (NanoGirls?) video at Amy Gahran’s yet?

Please vote in the new sidebar PV POLL: Is Amorphous Silicon (a-Si) Solar dead? This is third and final part of the PV unholy trinity poll series.


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