Tag Archives: U.S. Department of Energy

energy supply - AZ Business Magazine May/June 2012

First Solar Sets World Record for CdTe Solar Cell Efficiency

Tempe-based First Solar, Inc. announced it has set a world record for cadmium-telluride (CdTe) photovoltaic (PV) solar cell conversion efficiency, achieving 20.4 percent conversion efficiency certified at the Newport Corporation’s Technology and Applications Center (TAC) PV Lab and confirmed by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). The record-setting cell was constructed at the company’s Perrysburg, Ohio factory and Research & Development Center.

This certified result bests the previous record of 19.6 percent conversion efficiency set by GE Global Research in 2013. Last April, First Solar and GE announced a solar technology partnership in which First Solar acquired GE’s CdTe solar intellectual property and secured a collaborative research partnership with GE’s R&D team. The partnership was formed to accelerate innovation in PV technology and accelerate solar module performance at manufacturing scale.

“This record marks another achievement in our mission to unlock the industry-changing potential of CdTe PV,” said Raffi Garabedian, First Solar’s Chief Technology Officer. “We are demonstrating improvement in CdTe PV performance at a rate that dramatically outstrips the trajectory of conventional silicon technologies, which have already plateaued near their ultimate entitlements. The synergy realized in our partnership with GE also demonstrates the value of our consistent and strong investment in R&D. The advanced technologies and processes we developed for this record-setting cell are already being commercialized and will positively impact performance of our future production modules and power plants.”

First Solar’s new CdTe research cell conversion efficiency matches the research cell efficiency record of multicrystalline silicon, another technology used in the PV solar market.

First Solar has continued to transfer its success in the R&D lab into its commercial modules, increasing its average production module efficiency to 13.4 percent in the fourth quarter of 2013, up 0.6 percent from 12.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012. The company’s lead line was producing modules with 13.9 percent average efficiency at the end of 2013.

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SRP Buys Natural Gas Power Plant

Salt River Project has agreed to purchase one block of the Mesquite Generating Station located in Arlington, about 40 miles west of Phoenix.  The natural gas-fired power plant, owned by San Diego-based Sempra U.S. Gas & Power, includes two 625-megawatt (MW) combined-cycle generating blocks.  SRP is purchasing one of the blocks for $371 million and under the terms of the agreement, will operate the entire facility.

“We studied the market very carefully and determined that this purchase would provide an economic benefit to SRP and its customers,” said SRP general manager Mark Bonsall.  “While recent load growth has been fairly modest, more substantial growth is expected and this plant will position us well in the long term to meet our customer’s needs at a reasonable cost.”

The agreement is subject to approvals from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the U.S. Department of Energy.  The companies anticipate receiving these approvals in early 2013.

According to Bonsall, SRP will save money by purchasing an existing power plant now rather than building a new and much more expensive facility in the future.
As part of the purchase agreement, Sempra and SRP will form a joint operating entity called Mesquite Power Operations, LLC that will hold the plant permits.

The Mesquite Generating Station has been in operation since 2003 in Arlington.  More than 30 people are employed at the plant and SRP anticipates hiring the existing staff while making minimal changes to accommodate normal SRP operational procedures.

SRP is the third-largest public power utility in the nation, serving more than 950,000 electric customers.

Sempra U.S. Gas & Power, LLC is a leading developer of renewable energy and natural gas solutions.  The company operates solar, wind and natural gas power plants that generate enough electricity for nearly 1 million homes, along with natural gas storage and pipelines, and distribution utilities. Sempra U.S. Gas & Power is a subsidiary of Sempra Energy (NYSE: SRE), a Fortune 500 energy services holding company with 2011 revenues of $10 billion.  The Sempra Energy companies’ nearly 17,500 employees serve about 31 million consumers worldwide.  For more information, visit www.SempraUSGP.com.