Wednesday, March 25, 2009

DOE stimulates Solyndra

Solyndra recently received DOE loan guarantees to support construction of a new manufacturing facility. Good for them. The guarantees illustrate the challenges as well as the benefits of government support, though: the law authorizing them was passed in 2005, applications were due by the end of 2006, yet Solyndra is the first company to actually receive a guarantee. Inclusion of funds in the recent economic stimulus package no doubt helped the process along.

Solyndra has an interesting technology, with CIGS solar material deposited on a cylindrical substrate. The idea is to keep the same cross-sectional area facing the sun at all times, without the complexity and cost of tilted mounts or tracking motors. It makes sense, but unfortunately they haven't shared much information about cost or performance. Third party sources tell me that their installation is as simple as claimed, but are more skeptical about how cost effective the panels are once installed.

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