Thin Film Intelligence Brief 7 – 20 November 2012

First Solar bags EDF EN 115 MWp Lorraine plant Companies and organisations mentioned: First Solar, EDF Energies Nouvelles, NATO, Nanosolar, Smartenergy Invest, Advanta Capital, Array Technologies, San Diego Gas & Electric, Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory


Thin Film Intelligence Brief 7 – 20 November 2012

First Solar bags EDF EN 115 MWp Lorraine plant 

EDF Energies Nouvelles has commissioned a solar power plant in Toul-Rosières in the Lorraine region of eastern France, with an installed capacity of 115 MWp. The project involved decontamination and conversion of a former military base.

The large-scale plant is equipped with around 1.4 million thin-film photovoltaic panels manufactured by First Solar. The power generated at this plant will be equivalent to the annual electricity consumption of some 55,000 people and eliminate around 4,600 tonnes of CO2 emissions each year, according to EDF EN.

The site had to be decontaminated as it was a former air base and cleaned up pollution at the site. Asbestos was removed from 170 buildings, 280 were demolished, oil tanks and several kilometres of networks were emptied and 8,000 tonnes of polluted soil were cleared. 

“Located on abandoned land on the site of former NATO’s air base, the Toul facility represents an ambitious conversion project, which has led to the decontamination of the site and given it a second lease of life in the generation of green electricity,”said Yvon André, Chief Executive Officer of EDF EN France. “This project has been achieved thanks to a successful cooperation with the entire local community and a constant focus on environmental performance.”  

Initiated in 2009, the power plant project was developed and built by EDF EN France and has been commissioned gradually since May 2012. Operations and maintenance are managed by EDF EN Services, a subsidiary of EDF Energies Nouvelles.  

Other recent projects have included the commissioning of the Massangis (56 MWp, Burgundy) plant in October and the Crucey (60 MWp, Centre) plant in September, two projects that focused on rejuvenating the site’s land.

Nanosolar completes 10.63 MW Valencia project 

California-based CIGS print manufacturing and engineering firm, Nanosolar, has completed its largest solar installation to date, a 10.63 MW project in the town of Alfarrasi, which is located in the Valencia region of Spain. 

Developed by Smartenergy Invest and Advanta Capital, the new solar field is now the region’s largest PV power plant to date. The plant was put online earlier this month and is expected to produce energy to power 4,000 households per year.

“Our installation supports Spain’s national renewable energy action plan, which calls for renewable sources to account for at least 20 per cent of the final energy consumption by 2020,” said Stephan Hansen, executive vice president of Global Sales for Nanosolar. “The natural conditions in the Valencia region are excellent for photovoltaic and we expect Spain to be among the first countries to provide competitive solar electricity in Europe.”

The town of Alfarrasi is an ideal location for this solar installation, which encompasses over 50,000 panels across 65 acres of former agricultural land, according to Nanosolar. The region features a semi-arid climate with very mild winters and long warm to hot summers. Solar irradiance is above-average with a typical annual temperature of 22.3 °C (72.1 °F) during the day and an annual irradiation of approximately 1,650 kWh/m2.

“As businesses and consumers look for ways to be more reliant on clean, sustainable energy sources, multi-megawatt solar installations, such as the one in Alfarrasi become even more important,” said Horst Mahmoudi, senior partner at Smartenergy AG. “Nanosolar has been a great technology partner to work with on this project, providing cutting-edge utility panels with superior energy yields that will enable us to deliver the benefits of abundant solar across the Valencia region.”

Array Technologies wins SDG&E deal

Albuquerque-based Array Technologies has been selected by San Diego Gas & Electric to supply its DuraTrack single-axis trackers for a 268 MW-DC solar PV project in Southern California's Imperial Valley. The trackers will be delivered over a 9-month period.

The plant was given the green light earlier this month and is expected to come into operation progressively during the second half of 2013. 

The plant marks the world's largest PV plant to incorporate tracking technology. First Solar will supply its frameless cadmium telluride thin-film PV modules, which are suited for Array Technologies’ tracker design. 

Veer to enter solar sector with pilot farm

Mumbai-based Veer Energy and Infrastructure, a wind power developer, has reportedly confirmed that it will invest Rs 300 crore into solar energy projects in Gujarat, according to a Hindu Business report.

The company has acquired 200 acres at Shivlakha village of Kutch, Gujarat, to build a 25 MW solar energy project. The project site is about 1.5 km away from its sub-station at Chandrodi village. Veer Energy has collaborated with Astom AG Swiss, an expert in solar energy technologies. 

The company also plans to set up a rooftop solar project in the Sanand district of Gujarat. It will install 400 thin-film panels of 58.5 watts each for a rooftop project in joint venture with US-based New Millennium Solar Equipment Corporation. The unit has already imported thin film panels from NMSEC for the project, said the news report.  

Jigar Shah, CFO, Veer Energy said in the report that following the pilot solar project the company would focus on developing ‘big league’ solar projects.

ORNL creates new formula for oxide thin films 

Researchers at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory have tweaked the formula for growing oxide thin films, achieved virtual perfection at the interface of two insulator materials, according to the institution. 

The research team, led by ORNL's Ho Nyung Lee, demonstrated that a single unit cell layer of lanthanum aluminate grown on a strontium titanate substrate is sufficient to stabilize a chemically and atomically sharp interface. 

"This means that we can now create new properties by precisely conditioning the boundary in the process of stacking different oxides on top of each other," said Lee, a member of the Materials Science and Technology Division. 

Lee and colleagues used pulsed laser deposition to deposit lanthanum aluminate thin films on strontium titanate substrates. They were able to demonstrate that a mundane variable such as the oxygen pressure during deposition of lanthanum aluminate is the key factor for achieving atomically sharp interfaces and changing the interface properties on a single unit cell level. 

ORNL said that the finding is not limited to fine-tuning this particular interface, but also applies to a broad range of oxide heterostructures in a class of minerals known as perovskites.