With New SD Factory, Soitec Joins Top 3 U.S. Solar Panel Makers

12/19/12Follow @bvbigelow

In his first official proclamation, newly elected San Diego Mayor Bob Filner declared today as “Soitec Day” in the nation’s eighth largest city, capping a grand opening ceremony for a new solar panel factory completed here recently by Soitec, the French semiconductor manufacturer.

The automated plant was designed to make concentrating photovoltatic (CPV) solar panels for use in solar power plants throughout the American Southwest.

Soitec signed five contracts with San Diego Gas & Electric (“SDG&E”) in early 2011 to provide a combined total of 155 megawatts CPV solar generated electricity, enough renewable energy for more than 60,000 households. The contracts, approved by the California Public Utilities Commission, stipulated that Soitec’s CPV panels would be manufactured in San Diego. Altogether, the projects are intended to produce enough renewable solar energy to serve more than 60,000 households a year.

Soitec also has agreed to supply its CPV panels for a 150-megawatt project under development in Imperial County by Tenaska Solar Ventures. Plans call for electricity generated by the Tenaska solar plant to be sent into the power grid via SDG&E’s Sunrise Powerlink, a high-voltage transmission line completed in June.

With the new San Diego manufacturing plant, Soitec becomes one of the top three manufacturers of solar modules in the U.S., according to André-Jacques Auberton-Hervé, Soitec’s chairman and CEO

Soitec acquired the 176,000-square-foot building on 14.8 acres from Sony a year ago. Soitec installed a fully automated CPV production line that became operational in October. The new facility represents a total investment of more than $150 million for Soitec, Auberton-Hervé said to nearly 300 Soitec employees and guests who attended the event.

The total investment includes a $25 million grant the U.S. Department of Energy awarded Soitec in June to help support construction of the facility in San Diego. Such grants are intended to … Next Page »

Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at bbigelow@xconomy.com or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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