Solar Frontier, enXco making CIGS splash with 150MW deal

CIGS supplier Solar Frontier and renewable energy project developer enXco have signed an eye-popping deal in the world of thin-film solar PV technology: a 150MW module supply deal for enXco’s Catalina solar power plant in Kern County, CA.

January 18, 2012 – CIGS supplier Solar Frontier and renewable energy project developer enXco have signed an eye-popping deal in the world of thin-film solar PV technology: a 150MW module supply deal for enXco’s Catalina solar power plant in Kern County, CA. Solar Frontier says it delivered “a firm order” for 26MWp in 4Q11. The first phase (60MWp) is slated to go online by the end of 2012, with the rest coming online by June 2013.

This deal is a “landmark moment” for both Solar Frontier and the CIGS sector, showing how the technology can deliver more KWh over a project’s lifetime at lower cost, stated Gregory W. Ashley, COO of Solar Frontier Americas. He see this project as “a launch pad for ever greater CIS achievement in the United States and across the world.” Gregory Ashley, VP/COO of Solar Frontier’s America operations, tells the Wall Street Journal that up to a third of the company’s global business will eventually come from the Americas, and it’s looking to possibly open up new manufacturing capacity here as well.

Financially speaking, the Nikkei pegs the value at ~¥20B (US $260M); Bloomberg, citing a Showa Shell source, says ¥10B ($130M). Either way, it not only sweetens the bottom line but also helps offset the continued effects of a punishingly strong yen, the Nikkei notes.

According to SEPA, the biggest completed solar PV project right now is Sempra’s Copper Mountain (48MW). Twenty-six solar PV projects are on the board (tracked by SEPA) exceeding ?150MW, but only five are expected to come online by 2013 at any comparable scale to enXco’s project in the Mojave Desert:

– Blythe’s Solar Millenium, CA (500MW)
– First Solar’s Antelope Valley, CA (230MW)
– SunPower’s California Valley / High Plains II (175MW)
– 8 Minute Energy’s Mount Signal, CA (139MW)
– Arlington Valley, AZ (125MW)

Solar Frontier, a unit of Showa Shell, has been in the solar business since the 1970s, with a focus on CIS technology for nearly two decades. Among its more recent achievements:

– Last summer it ramped its 900MW Kunitomi plant in Japan, bringing total annual production capacity to 1GW. It also touted new 12.2% efficient 150W modules.
– In November, it completed (with Belectric) a 4.2MW power plant in Bessan, France.
– It had supply deals in India totaling 30MW of installations by the end of 2011.

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