In a ribbon-cutting event held Monday, concentrated photovoltaics company Soliant Energy opened a new 1MW-capacity solar-panel pilot production facility in Monrovia, CA, near Los Angeles. The company said that it will hire up to 40 new employees to staff the plant and that the pilot line will help it plan out equipment and process needs for full-scale production, scheduled to commence in 2010.
“The Soliant Energy mission is to energize commercial rooftops by maximizing solar energy output at the most competitive price,” said Marco DeMiroz, Soliant’s CEO, who joined the company in April. “Opening this pilot production facility is a critically important step along this path.”
A venture-backed operation founded by NASA engineers under the original name of Practical Instruments, Soliant has been developing custom dual-axis tracker-mounted CPV modules featuring a 500X concentrating optical system with high-efficiency triple-junction solar cells and Fresnel lenses. Six Soliant modules (each with eight TJ cells) comprise one so-called panel assembly, rated at approximately 21% conversion efficiency.
The company believes it can provide a low-cost, high-efficiency, high-energy-output alternative to both crystalline-silicon and thin-film PV modules in the commercial rooftop system space.
The opening of the pilot line represents the company’s first push into manufacturing. Soliant has already lined up channel partners such as Sunlight Electric and Morrow-Meadows Alternative Energy and beta customers including Chevron and Nardi Associates.