Skyline Solar wins DoD contract

The Department of Defense (DoD) will test Skyline Solar’s concentrated photovoltaics (CPV) at two U.S.-based military sites as part of its efforts to foster energy independence and test some of the newest solar technologies. Skyline won a $1.6 million award to install the arrays, which the DoD will monitor and collect data on.

“We’re interested in what’s emerging in general in new solar technologies,” said Jim Galvin, program manager of DoD’s Environmental Security Technology Certification Program. “What we found appealing [with Skyline] is it’s beyond just the standard solar that is available off the shelf.”

Skyline’s CPV system, which it calls high-gain solar, consists of a reflective trough that directs sunlight to mono-crystalline silicon PV cells at the edges of the trough. The trough is mounted on a single-axis tracking system, so it moves with the sun throughout the day, collecting and concentrating as much sunlight as possible on the PV cells, which are protected from the sun’s heat and are mounted to heat sinks, increasing their ability to produce electricity.

The company has completed three installations, most recently a 80-kilowatt installation powering the hamlet of Nipton, Calif.

Despite having installations in place, Tim Keating, Skyline’s vice president of marketing and field operations, explained that the company does not disclose efficiency numbers at this time.

“However, we do see an additional increase in efficiency due to higher voltage across the cell,” he said. “Our patented thermal management allows the cells to stay cool even while producing 10 times the normal amount of energy per gram of silicon compared to a traditional flat plate solar panel.”

At present, Galvin said the DoD is looking to evaluate the technology on domestic bases for the moment. But in the future, depending on how the Skyline systems perform, they may be considered for use in the operational side of the DoD and could be used for bases or camps.

The DoD will test and collect data on the devices over the three-year lifespan of the project. Construction will begin in 2011, Galvin said, and may be complete as early as summer 2011.

“As this project is a demonstration of Skyline Solar technology, it is too early to state whether the technology will be used overseas,” said Keating. “The systems are most appropriate for hot and sunny climates and can be used in remote locations.”

The anticipated demonstration sites for this project are Fort Bliss, Texas, and Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.

Pictured: Skyline Solar's Nipton, Calif., facility, courtesy of Skyline Solar.