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Soitec and Schneider to integrate CPV technology in Morocco

Soitec will provide its III-V multi-junction Concentrix solar cells under the partnership in the Mediterranean Solar Plan.

Solar provider Soitec and Schneider Electric, a specialist in energy management, have signed a memorandum of understanding with Masen (Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy).

Masen is a lead player in the Moroccan Solar Plan and plans to integrate Soitec’s III-V multi-junction Concentrix solar cell technology into Morocco.

Completion of the project will create a CPV segment serving domestic needs and generating exports of electricity and power plants, thereby contributing to a strategy of controlled energy costs over the long term for Morocco and to the achievement of a plan to build a manufacturing facility in the country. The Franco-Moroccan initiative marks the first utility-scale project under the Mediterranean Solar Plan in one of the 43 member countries of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM), a partnership uniting Europe with countries in the Mediterranean Basin.

The memorandum of understanding between Soitec, Schneider Electric and Masen is part of the Moroccan Solar Plan. It is supported jointly by the Moroccan and French governments and has four key components.

The research & development initiative involves joint work on CPV R&D subjects for technology sharing, based in part on provision of a demonstrator by Soitec. Secondly, the consortium plan an industrial integration, through development of a local supply chain for CPV system components, including trackers, and opportunity analysis on setting up a CPV modules assembling factory in Morocco.

Training involving transfer of Soitec’s CPV know-how to Masen, and joint analysis by all stakeholders on the feasibility of setting up a master’s syllabus on management of renewable energies in partnership with Moroccan universities will also take place.

 Finally, two Moroccan CPV pilot projects of 5 MW each, with two different generation systems will be set up and all or part of the electricity generated will be exported under the MSP. The first pilot project, scheduled for completion in early 2012, involves development, on the technology platform at Masen’s Ouarzazate site, of a 5 MW demonstration unit twinned with Soitec and Schneider Electric facilities in France. A joint basis for research & development will thus be established, facilitating a strategy of knowledge sharing between the partners. The second project involves construction of another 5 MW section using next-generation modules at a site to be approved by the partners.

“This multidimensional pilot partnership on CPV, a promising solar power technology, fits in perfectly with Masen’s vision on integrated development of the Moroccan Solar Plan. This kind of project will undoubtedly be having a positive impact on the sector, and on regional integration, which we’re eager to participate in, alongside organisations like Soitec and Schneider Electric, which share our aims,” remarked Masen chairman Mustapha Bakkoury.

“We are delighted to be working together with Schneider Electric and Masen on this major initiative in the Mediterranean Basin and France as part of this program to develop the production of solar-generated electricity. Our technology is in the process of being adopted on a large scale in the San Diego region of the United States, where climate conditions are similar and where our technology has proven to be the best suited to regions with abundant sunshine. We are working very closely alongside Masen on rollout of solar power plants in Morocco and to promote the economic development of the region”, commented André-Jacques Auberton-Hervé, Soitec’s chairman and chief executive officer.

“Schneider Electric has a sixty-year history of working in Morocco, and is delighted to be contributing to the Moroccan Solar Plan. We’ll be working jointly with Soitec to address the needs expressed by Masen,” noted Laurent Bataille, Schneider Electric’s renewable energies director. “Schneider Electric will be harnessing its international expertise in intelligent energy management systems for solar power plants, and its unique know-how in access to renewable energies, to ensure that this Moroccan cooperative project is a resounding industrial, technological, innovative and human success.”

Concentrix technology has been optimised for high-capacity industrial-scale solar power plants. The technology is ideal for use in areas with high direct normal irradiance, such as Saharan Africa, southern Africa, the Middle East, Australia, and the Southern and Southwestern United States.

 Soitec solar plants have already been built in more than ten countries, including the US Sun Belt, where their two-axis sun-tracking system delivers record yields. Soitec says its Concentrix technology is the most competitive solution on the market, offers the best design for use in sunny regions, is environmentally friendly and delivers the highest efficiencies.

Schneider Electric’s renewable energies access offering covers all needs, from electricity generation through to network connection. It includes feasibility studies, power distribution architecture design, the supply of all types of equipment including junction boxes, inverters, prefabricated transformer substations, MV transformer substations, the supervision system and video surveillance, as well as operation and maintenance of the system.

In taking full responsibility for system operation and maintenance, Schneider Electric assures the operator of installation availability. Specifically, Schneider Electric provides preventive maintenance to forestall dysfunction, and implements control devices at strategic points throughout the system. This equipment outputs information on system operation (inverter and generator module status, deviation warnings with alarm signals, etc.), enabling the operator to take realtime action to remedy fault conditions and promptly resume normal system operation.
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