GreenVolts GV1’ and Concentrating Photovoltaic Test Site Update

[Byron, California USA]

Revised Concentrating PhotoVoltaic (CPV) module design prototype?
The GreenVolts Test Site was installed for almost $11 per Watt.

From GreenVolts GV1′ Update

After walking by the ABB Ltd (NYSE:ABB) stand a few times co-promoting the GreenVolts, Inc. CPV solution outside the Press Room at Intersolar North America 2012, I realized a GV1’ (prime) site revisit was long overdue. That weekend, I surveyed the GV1’ site in Byron and was not disappointed.

One additional tilt and roll style dual axis tracker had been installed with two (2) arrays. Each array had sixteen (16) newer CPV modules with an au naturel looking metal finish losing the garish paint. Beyond the superficial, the CPV modules may incorporate efficiency enhancements improving on the 320 Watt GreenVolts benchmark module among the List of Other Eligible Solar Electric Generating Technologies at Go Solar California. However, the new arrays were not tracking the sun on the occasion of the mid July visit. It’s easy to understand the urgency for an enhanced CPV module and system considering the underperformance of GreenVolts at the Arizona Western College installation.

From GreenVolts GV1′ Update

Following methodology, I rechecked the site six (6) weeks later and found the two new arrays tracking the sun but no more had been installed. As before, additional modules, both of the shiny metal variety and old garish green ones, could be seen packed on pallets awaiting installation. There seemed to be enough modules strewn about to complete the installation of all the arrays on the new tracker.

From GreenVolts GV1′ Update

This week’s press release “Henkel Partners with GreenVolts on Environmentally Responsible Metal Coating Process to Protect CPV Solar System” provided limited insight on the new modules. The Henkel Corporation, a unit of Henkel AG & Co KGaA (ETR:HEN3), Aquence Co-Cure process with powder topcoat explains GreenVolts trademark metal finish. On closer examination, the new array support frame appears to have a grayish powder topcoat so it is possible the modules also have a new powder topcoat. Without a powder topcoat, the color of the Aquence autodeposition coating is black.

From GreenVolts GV1′ Update

Keeping the modules company, a herd of goats was grazing the site performing routine maintenance on the grass and perhaps providing a practical example of dual land use with CPV. The goats seemed to avoid the trackers by instinct. Although a sign reminded personnel “GOATS Keep Gate CLOSED”, I wonder if the goats had been briefed this was a “Restricted Area, Monitored By Video Camera” and of the need for protective gear.

From the unlisted and transient YouTube video of the GV1’ site by the ill advised R/C (Remote Control) helicopter flyover, the five (5) complete tilt and roll trackers have an installed capacity of 320 kW (kiloWatt). So why hasn’t GreenVolts completed the 2 to 3 MW (MegaWatt) project? Maybe the GreenVolts CPV system LCOE (Levelized Cost of Energy) is too high to profit from the PPA (Power Purchase Agreement) with PG&E Corporation (NYSE:PCG) for the California Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS) utility scale solar project?

GreenVolts Test Site

Well, it took over a year for the U.S. Department of Treasury to respond to my FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) request regarding the $252560 Treasury Grant awarded to GreenVolts Inc. on April 4, 2011. The grant was awarded to GreenVolts for the CPV test site located at 47201 Mission Falls Court not far from their headquarters in Fremont, California USA, and officially placed into service on August 12, 2010.

In their infinite wisdom, Treasury redacted the installed nameplate capacity and annual production estimate citing these as company proprietary information. The Office the Fiscal Assistant Secretary said:

The information that has been withheld is protected from disclosure under the FOIA pursuant to 5 U.S.C. §S 552(b)(4) and (b)(6). Exemption 4 pertains to trade secrets and commercial or financial information obtained from a person and is privileged and/or confidential.

For this reason, I’ve embedded the GreenVolts redacted Application for Section 1603, and please note I did not request “Section 6A. Documentation for Properties Placed In Service”.

I estimate the GreenVolts test site has a system capacity of 76.8 kW based on twenty (20) arrays with sixteen (16) modules each and guessing an early 240 Watt power rated module was deployed. The $252560 Treasury Grant award was 30% of the qualified cost basis of $841867 or $10.96 per Watt.

Unlike a larger and even more expensive prototype solar project, at least the GreenVolts test site is in apparent continuous operation and the “Energy is used to power an adjoining commercial property in a net metering arrangement.

Truth be told, I did not notice any tracking anomalies at either GV1’ or the test site during these latest surveys.

One comment

  1. Paul Bostwick says:

    another good report. Keep ’em coming.

    “GOATS Keep Gate CLOSED”

    Maybe that tells us that the goats take care of the gates so we don’t have to worry about it? They are pretty smart those goats.


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