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Soitec reveals San Diego North American solar headquarters

The III-V compound semiconductor solar cell factory will be capable of supplying more than 300-MW in solar projects to provide electricity to SDG&E

Soitec inaugurated its new North American solar headquarters and manufacturing plant in San Diego at a ceremony held on Friday, December 16. 

Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr., spoke at the event. Also participating in the factory dedication were San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders, Jessie J. Knight, chairman and CEO of San Diego Gas & Electric Company (SDG&E) and California Public Utilities Commissioner (CPUC), Timothy Simon. They were joined by governmental officials and over 300 community and business leaders that attended the dedication event.  

The San Diego based factory is to supply more than 300-MW in solar projects to provide electricity to SDG&E. All Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) have been approved by the CPUC. 

The new factory will enable a manufacturing capacity of 200-MW of Soitec's fifth generation of Concentrix III-V multi-junction CPV modules, with the opportunity for future expansion to double the capacity to 400-MW per year.

Soitec's highly efficient, durable CPV systems have enabled the company to plan for more than 300-MW in utility-scale solar power plant projects throughout the Southwest U.S., including 155- MW in PPAs with San Diego Gas & Electric, approved by the CPUC last month. 

In addition, a power purchase agreement for up to 150-MW for the Imperial Solar Energy Centre West project, another project that currently proposes to use Soitec's CPV technology, was approved by the CPUC on December 15. Tenaska Solar Ventures, LLC, an affiliate of independent energy company Tenaska, is developing that project. Jerry Crouse, CEO of Tenaska also attended the dedication event on Friday.

"SDG&E has signed more contracts using CPV technology than any other utility in the world - a distinction we're proud of," said Jessie J. Knight, Jr., chairman and CEO of SDG&E. "At the time we began our talks with Soitec, we realised we had a unique opportunity to negotiate not only a good contract for solar energy at prices that competed head-to-head with other technologies, but also to solidify an agreement that would bear fruit for years to come in new local jobs and overall economic benefits. From a reliability and grid stability perspective, this technology is far superior to other typical ground-mounted arrays."

With installations on four continents around the world, Soitec's CPV technology has proven to be one of the most efficient and most environmentally friendly solar power technologies. It demonstrates unique cost competitiveness compared to other solar technologies, largely due to its higher production yields at peak times and lower construction and maintenance costs. In addition, CPV technology's abilities to operate without cooling water, to withstand hot ambient temperatures and to accommodate the dual use of land with minimal environmental impact make it perfectly suited for use throughout the desert southwest.

Soitec employs a distributed manufacturing model which locates CPV module factories close to its customers to provide the most efficient and environmentally beneficial green power. The distribution model also calls for a large percentage of local content and local job generation.

"Soitec's new facility will create hundreds of well-paying jobs and build on San Diego's growing reputation as one of the world's leading clean-technology clusters," commented San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders. "We are so honoured and proud to welcome Soitec to the San Diego community, and I know that San Diego's collaborative business community will continue to work with Soitec to ensure the company's success and prosperity." 

CPUC Commissioner Timothy Simon also commented during Soitec's dedication event. "I encourage Soitec to continue to work with the other utilities in our state and in our nation so we can ensure that this very important technology is doing its best to help us reduce greenhouse emissions," said CPUC Commissioner Simon. "I look forward to working with President Peevey and my fellow commissioners to ensure that all needed essentials to make this project successful continue to have the support of the CPUC."

Governor Brown noted, "I'm glad to be here for the dedication of Soitec's manufacturing plant.  The expansion of clean energy businesses is a direct result of legislation mandating that one-third of California's electricity come from renewable sources by 2020. That's a goal and we're going to meet it. In fact, we are going to do better."
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