San Diego Utility Snares More CPV Power

California’s renewables portfolio standard (RPS) is the most ambitious in the country, requiring utilities to get one-third of their power from renewable sources by 2020. When it comes to meeting its RPS goal, San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) is not messing around. Since January, the utility has added more than 1,200 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy to its generation portfolio, with multiple projects still awaiting approval from the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC).

The CPUC recently approved power purchase agreements between SDG&E and five concentrating photovoltaic (CPV) plants in Boulevard and Borrego Springs, Calif. Combined, the projects will provide 114 megawatts (MW) of solar energy capacity, and generate an estimated 280 gigawatt-hours of electricity annually. The 25-year agreements will enable SDG&E to recover costs associated with purchasing power from LanEast Solar Farm, LanWest Solar Farm, Desert Green Solar Farm, Rugged Solar and Tierra Del Sol Solar Farm. The projects are expected to begin delivering electricity to SDG&E in 2014.

Soitec CPV

image via Soitec

The plants will all use Soitec’s Concentrix concentrating photovoltaic modules sourced from a new Soitec manufacturing plant that will be located in the San Diego region. Soitec’s CPV modules use Fresnel lenses to concentrate sunlight 500 times and focus it onto small, highly efficient multi-junction solar cells.

At full capacity, Soitec says its planned San Diego manufacturing and operations facility will produce 200 MW of solar equipment, and generate up to 450 direct jobs, more than 1,000 indirect jobs and $23 million in annual sales tax revenue.

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Lauren Craig is a writer and consultant living in Seattle, WA. She holds an M.S. in International Development from Tulane University, and is co-founder of Sustainable Systems Integrators, LLC., an employee-owned solar energy design and installation firm in New Orleans, LA. She is also certified in PV design and installation by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP).

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