DOE Backs Thin Flexible Solar Panels

on August 22, 2011 at 4:45 PM

Though prices for solar panels are continuing to drop, the US government is bolstering the industry with another slew of loan guarantees.

On Friday, the Department of Energy announced $197 million in loan guarantees for SoloPower, a San Jose-based solar photovoltaic panels manufacturer that specializes in flexible ultra thin film solar cells. The guarantee will support construction and operation of three new solar farms that will produce approximately 400 MW in total.

Friday’s news came at the heels of a June 30 DOE announcement of $4.5 billion in conditional federal loan guarantees for solar development in California. Those loan guarantees also supported three solar farms, including a $680 million 230 MW Antelope Valley Solar Ranch 1 project, a $1.88 billion 550 MW Desert Sunlight project and a $1.93 550 MW billion Topaz Solar project, all being built by First Solar with Cd-Te thin film solar PV panels.

For more information about the June 30 loan guarantees, read: Solar Soars On Federal Billions.

SoloPower will use the loan guarantees to build two new facilities in Portland, Oregon and to expand an existing San Jose, California plant. For Oregon in particular, the new projects may be a much-needed economic boost.

“SoloPower is bringing exactly the kind of new jobs Oregon needs,” said Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber in a statement. “Working with SoloPower to bring their manufacturing headquarters to Portland, we are continuing on the path of supporting a strong clean technology manufacturing base in Oregon.”

Various groups have been eying the cleantech sector as a potential source for job creation and economic growth. One for-profit college based in Colorado is leading the way by being the first and currently the only college fully dedicated to training its students in the field of renewable energy. Read the full story: Retraining For A Renewable Future.

SoloPower’s unique technology uses electrochemistry to make cheaper and thinner, flexible solar panels from copper, indium, gallium, and selenide (CIGS) minerals. The foil-like panels may expand the potential placements and installations of solar panels in residential, commercial and industrial locations.

Photo Caption: The SFX1-i is one of SoloPower’s newest products that it plans to manufacture at its three new facilities.