SolFocus, a developer of concentrated photovoltaic (CPV) solar power systems, announced Monday that Vision Electro Mechanical Company will be using SolFocus’ CPV technology to build the largest CPV solar power plant in Saudi Arabia. The plant will be installed in Bahra, using the solar systems from the California-based SolFocus.
The negotiation stages for the project were finalized after eight weeks, and the plant is slated to be operational by the end of the year.
“SolFocus is providing proprietary CPV product to Vision, who will then develop, install and market it in Saudi Arabia,” said Nancy Hartsoch, vice president of marketing at Solfocus.
Concentrated photovoltaic technology enhances the sun’s power using reflecting shields in order to multiply the amount of sunlight hitting electricity-producing solar panels. According to Hartsoch, CPV is “far more efficient” than traditional photovoltaic panels.
The solar plant will be built with a nameplate capacity of 132 kilowatts and will be equipped to produce 300 megawatt hours of electricity per year.
“The SolFocus project with Vision is the first commercial-scale project in Saudi Arabia,” said Hartsoch. “To the best of our knowledge, the only other CPV project of this scale is the project with Masdar in Abu Dhabi. That project will be a total of 800 kW but will be accomplished through multiple vendor systems as a test field, which we expect probably breaks down to separate CPV installations under 100 kW each.”
But will this project help foster the solar industry, particularly in the Middle East? Hartsoch thinks so.
“Of particular interest is the approach Vision has taken. First, they are installing a pilot project of enough size to be able to understand and validate the technology in the operating environment of Saudi Arabia. Second, they are expanding this with other test sites at various locations throughout the country, both with universities and research groups as well as other potential commercial sites,” said Hartsoch. “This allows them to test the various operating environments, which are diverse in a country the size of Saudi Arabia, and engages academia and research in the project.”
Pictured: SolFocus' CPV modules. Yes, that's grass underneath. These modules are not, in fact, in Saudi Arabia yet.