Hatch, N.M. producing more than green chiles with new Amonix CPV array

Hatch, N.M. producing more than green chiles with new Amonix CPV arrayThere’s more than just the heat of green chiles behind NextEra Energy, Inc.’s (NYSE:NEE) new 5-megawatt concentrating photovoltaic (CPV) farm in Hatch, N.M., which is famous for its green chiles. The array was built shortly after Amonix Inc., who supplied the modules for the array, completed their new manufacturing facility.

The new 5-megawatt array was completed and commissioned in June 2011 (it wasn’t announced until Oct. 19), according to Amonix Vice President Carla Pihowich. The array, which consists of 84, 60-kilowatt Amonix systems, was manufactured at Amonix’s new production facility, which came online in mid-May 2011, she said.

Each IMAX-sized system has 7,560 high-efficiency (up to 41 percent in labs), multi-junction gallium indium PV cells, and each cell is covered with a Fresnel lens that concentrates the amount of sun hitting the cell by up to 500 times. The whole shebang is mounted on a dual-axis tracker that follows the sun throughout the day. The system is designed to go up quickly. After initial work to install pedestals for the tracker, an array of the systems can be installed at a rate of half a megawatt a day.

The systems also generate more power per acre than other solar technologies, according to Pihowich.

“Amonix CPV systems produce more energy per acre than alternate solar technologies, effectively using land better, generally, 5 acres per 1 megawatt,” she said.

NextEra’s Energy Resources is selling the power generated by the Hatch Solar Energy Center to El Paso Electric. It generates enough electricity to power approximately 1,300 homes annually.

“The 5-megawatt Amonix CPV solar plant in Hatch, New Mexico, is the largest completed CPV plant in North America,” Pihowich said.

But it’s not the largest in the world. The largest installed CPV solar plant utilizing Amonix CPV technology is in Navarra, Spain.

The company already is working on producing modules for future, larger solar installations, but it won’t comment on projects until they’re built and completed, Pihowich said.

“Cogentrix has previously announced the 30-MW project underway using Amonix CPV technology,” she said.

That plant, the Alamosa Solar Generating Project, is being built in Colorado.

Image courtesy of Amonix.