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III-V Solar's Largest Deals Set For 2009 Buildout

Milestones for CPV in Australia and Spain mark the way to continued growth for two firms using compound semiconductor cells next year.

Solar Systems has opened the test plant for the world s largest planned concentrator photovoltaic installation in Australia, days before being challenged by the sector's biggest European deal.

The AUD10 million ($6.8 million), 140 kW CPV research site in Bridgewater was opened on October 31 by Victoria state premier John Brumby. This plant is the first step in the AUD420 million, 154 MW large-scale site due for commissioning in 2013.

Meanwhile, SolFocus said on November 3 that it has secured an €80 million ($103 million) supply deal to provide over 10 MW of systems across southern Spain.

The Californian system maker points out that this will be the largest CPV deployment in Europe and intends to complete installation by the end of 2010. By contrast, Solar Systems planned ramp sees only 2 MW built at the 154 MW site in 2010, making SolFocus likely to overtake it as the provider of the world s largest CPV project.

Construction on Solar Systems landmark station will begin in 2009, with the support of its power company backer TruEnergy and the Victoria state government.

SolFocus is also now primed to undertake its European deal with the little-known company EMPE Solar through 2009, after completing its 0.5 MW allocation at the experimental ISFOC CPV installation.

“The ISFOC project consumed all of our capacity until we completed it, but now we have the ability to go out and deploy other places," SolFocus marketing director Nancy Hartsoch told compoundsemiconductor.net.

The EMPE Solar installations will ultimately meet the domestic energy needs of a city of approximately 40,000 residents, but SolFocus hopes to reach even further next year.

“We re looking to deploy about 15-20 MW in 2009," Hartsoch said. “The big challenge now is just ramping that manufacturing machine."

“We have moved out of R&D into a heavily commercialization- and manufacturing-focused phase."

This commercial momentum is good news for GaAs-based cell producers like Emcore and Spectrolab, who both supply SolFocus, while Solar Systems has an exclusive agreement with Spectrolab.

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