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Soitec installs largest III-V CPV solar power plant in Italy

The firm's gallium indium phosphide / gallium arsenide / germanium solar cells will supply electricity to Enel, Italy’s largest power company

Soitec has completed construction and grid connection for the largest concentrator photovoltaic (CPV) solar power plant in Italy.

Located in the Belpasso municipality in the Catania province in Sicily, the highly efficient, 1.17-megawatt-peak (MWp) facility is now ready to generate clean, reliable electricity for the local power grid for decades to come and paves the way for many other CPV plants to be developed in Italy.

The new utility-scale power plant will generate enough electricity to supply approximately 300 homes per year and is expected to offset more than 125 tons of carbon-dioxide emissions per year. It is equipped with 74 of Soitec’s high-efficiency CPV trackers, each using 168 Concentrix CPV modules, along with two central inverters of 500 kW each to ensure reliable power distribution to the grid.

Concentrix tracking system

Concentrix technology uses optimised III-V-based triple-junction solar cells (GaInP/GaInAs/Ge) in which three different types of solar cells are stacked on top of one another. Each cell type is designed to convert a certain range of the solar spectrum: short wave radiation, medium wave radiation and infrared.

Operating at higher efficiency than conventional solar PV panels in converting sunlight into electricity, Soitec’s systems maximise energy production throughout the day by incorporating multjunction solar cells and dual-axis tracking systems that maintain an optimal angle to the sun. CPV is the most attractive solar technology in high solar resource regions around the globe.

“Completing this solar power plant marks a major milestone for Soitec in Italy while also demonstrating all of CPV’s advantages in this part of the world,” says Gaetan Borgers, executive vice president of Soitec’ Solar Energy division.

“This project has allowed us to show that CPV’s leading efficiency and ability to provide a steady, long-term energy supply without consuming excessive amounts of land and water make it exactly the right technology for Italy. We are uniquely positioned with a cost-effective power generation technology at high levels of efficiency and committed to developing this market in Italy.”

Fully owned and operated by Soitec, the new solar plant will supply electricity to Enel, Italy’s largest power company. Local Italian construction companies provided engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) services for the solar power plant while efficient central-inverter technology was provided by Schneider Electric.
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