Posts Tagged Solyndra

Big Box Retailers and Solar Power Generation

Posted by on Thursday, 10 June, 2010

Researching the Solana plant led me to a Senate report on solar power generation. Big box retailers such as Walmart, Target, and Best Buy have huge stores, many of which are located in the hot Southwest. Some of these stores have large quantities of food which must be refrigerated, and they may also air condition their stores for customer comfort. This requires a lot of power, and the 2008 gasoline price spike scared a lot of companies into setting up their own renewable power generation systems. The big box stores are now installing their own solar photovoltaic equipment.

Walmart has installed a large solar array at its location in Apple Valley. This project now provides 1 megawatt of solar power to run the Apple Valley Walmart. It’s part of a larger Walmart initiative, Walmart already set up 18 solar arrays at stores in California and plans to have as many as 40 arrays complete in California locations by the end of 2010. These arrays are intended to provide about a quarter of the power that a store uses, and Walmart claims that its goal is to eventually switch fully to renewable power sources.

Many of the big box chains also sell solar panels and control equipment. Chains that focus on electronics and related equipment, such as Fry’s Electronics, have the best selections of solar gear. Larger store chains like Costco and Walmart that sell pretty much anything also sell solar power setups. Rebates on this equipment may be available as well.

Costco is also installing large photovoltaic systems at its own store locations. One of the biggest installations is at a Costco in New Jersey. Solar Power, Inc performed this installation, with solar panels manufactured by the Bay Area firm Solyndra. Solyndra and Solar Power, Inc won an award from Renewable Energy World for the successful completion of this project. The Solyndra solar collectors include significant technological breakthroughs since the cylinders in the panel can collect solar rays from any direction, providing efficiency improvements. President Obama and Senator Barbara Boxer have toured Solyndra’s Fremont solar panel factory, and Solyndra has received federal loan guarantees to continue solar panel construction.

Target is another large big box store that sells solar panels and other appliances which can be recharged by the sun. Some Target stores also have their own solar installations now. According to Target, the company has 21 stores in California with solar power systems installed and plans to add more. The company mentions that earlier stores may not be designed for solar panel installation on their roofs, although new roofs can incorporate this goal.

Solyndra, the Solar Generator Manufacturer

Posted by on Tuesday, 25 May, 2010

Solyndra is a Bay Area company that is in the news for manufacturing solar power modules. The Department of Energyis guaranteeing a $535 million loan to support its solar power technology. According to the Department of Energy, this is the first project that the federal government is backing under the Department of Energy loan guarantee program. As with the other projects, this requires an equity investment from the company itself. The federal government is providing 73% of the funds so the company has to provide the other 27%, which means that Solyndra has to put up $198 million, a much larger initial investment than most of the renewable energy projects that the government supports. According to the Department of Energy, the next two companies receiving loans under the loan guarantee program are Beacon and Nordic.

This large project is receiving great amounts of government attention. Senator Boxer supports this project since it will bring jobs to Fremont as well as potentially providing a great deal of power from the solar panels the plant manufactures over its lifetime. Senator Boxer has toured the plant and photos are available on her website.
Senator Boxer’s website states that the plant may provide up to 15 GW of power during its lifetime and the White House blog claims up to 7 GW during the first phase of construction, which is what the loan is designed to finance. Later phases of construction will be supported by the sales of the solar panels. President Obama scheduled a May 26 visit to tour the Solyndra facility in Fremont.

Solyndra also has operations in Italy and is installing solar panels throughout Europe. Solyndra and the Italian company Enerqos are setting up solar panels on houses in Italy and have installed these generators as part of a project in Villa Dossola. The major technological advantage of Solyndra’s photovoltaic cells is that their cylindrical design allows them to capture solar energy from any angle, allowing efficiency improvements. The solar cell design provides easy installation, and according to Enerqos in the press release, better resistance to wind damage and low weight. The company is installing these solar cells on roofs so these traits are important.