Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Electric Company Signs Historic 800 MW Solar Power deal with OptiSolar SunPower



Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), a subsidiary of PG&E Corporation, recently announced that it has made an agreement with Topaz Solar Farms LLC, a subsidiary of OptiSolar Inc and High Plains Ranch II, LLC, a subsidiary of SunPower Corporation. This significant contract is a double utility-scale, photovoltaic (PV) solar power deal for 800 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy.
Ultimately, this collaboration is expected to produce 1.65 billion kilowatt-hours of renewable energy per year. Such an amount of energy would in fact be able to power 239,000 residential homes annually.
PG&E has linked up with Topaz Solar Farms to produce 550 MW of thin-film PV solar power and will generate the remaining 250 MW of solar energy needed from its tie-up with the High Plains Ranch II.
“These landmark agreements signal the arrival of utility-scale PV solar power that may be cost-competitive with solar thermal and wind energy,” said Jack Keenan, chief operating officer and senior vice president for PG&E.
“We will continue to explore such innovative technologies as we aggressively work to increase the amount of renewable energy we provide our customers,” he added.
The Topaz Solar Farm project aims to use low-cost, thin-film PV panels from OptiSolar to deliver its 550 MW of solar energy annually. This would mean that the company is undertaking to produce, 100,000 megawatt-hours of renewable power per year.
The project is expected to make its first delivery in 2011 and then be in full production two years later.
“We are very happy to be working with PG&E to help meet California’s requirements for clean, renewable energy and are committed to working closely with the local community as this project moves forward,” said Randy Goldstein, chief executive officer of OptiSolar.
“Our solar farms are quiet and emission-free, with solar panels mounted near ground level to minimize visual impact. Implementing cost-competitive solar power on this scale establishes thin-film photovoltaic generation as an important contributor to global sustainability,” Goldstein stated.
SunPower’s California Valley Solar Ranch is to deliver a much lesser load of solar power in comparison to OptiSolar. The 250 MW of solar power will first be delivered in 2010, a whole year ahead of OptiSolar and will produce about 550,000 megawatt-hours of solar electricity per year. SunPower expects to be in full production of the renewable energy requirements by the year 2012. The ranch plans to use crystalline PV solar cells from SunPower which will supply 50 percent more energy than the normal crystalline cells.
“Today, high-efficiency photovoltaic technology is a competitively-priced component of utility-scale peak power generation,” said Tom Werner, chief executive officer of SunPower.
“Our experience constructing more than 350 megawatts of solar systems on three continents allows us to deliver utility-scale systems quickly and at a scale of hundreds of kilowatts to hundreds of megawatts. We design our solar systems to maximize energy harvest while adapting to the natural topography of the site and serving the needs of the community,” he concluded.
The Pacific Gas and Electric Company is one of the largest combined natural gas and electric companies in the United States. The past six years have seen the company take giant strides towards renewable energy and has linked up with several companies to produce more than 3,600 MW of renewable power. Of this, the solar energy contracts provide a total of 2,500 MW of renewable power. For the future, the company has even bigger plans looking towards wind power, biomass and geothermal energy sources. Currently, the company caters to more than 15 million people in northern

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