First 'Commercial' CIGS Thin-Film Solar Array Powers Global Solar Energy's Own Factory

global solar energy thin-film solar array photo

photo: MMA Renewable Ventures

Ah, how to spin things? Tucson, Arizona-based solar cell manufacturer Global Solar Energy just made an announcement about a copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS) thin film solar array that is interesting in a number of ways: It's the largest CIGS array currently installed, the first(-ish) commercial solar array using that technology, it powers part of Global Solar's own manufacturing facility, and the whole thing is being done under a power purchase agreement. Where to start? Basics first:750 kW Array Provides 25% of Factory's Power
How large is the largest commercial GIGS thin film solar array? In the realm of commercial solar, not that large: 750 kW. The panels themselves were made by Solon Corp. (whose tag line on their website is "Don't leave the planet to the stupid" by the way, gotta love that...) and cover 310,000 square feet of land adjacent to the Global Solar facility. The power produced by the panels will supply 25% of the factory's power.

So why might this not be the first commercial solar array using CIGS? As Greentech Media points out, can you really call it a commercial solar project if its installed at your own factory? Other CIGS manufacturers have set up small, but still multiple kilowatt, demonstration projects at their facilities and haven't tried to pass them off as commercial projects.

Does the fact that Global Solar didn't pay for the array themselves, but had MMA Renewable Ventures install and own the system, with Global buying the electricity under a power purchase agreement really separate things enough that this is a true commercial project?

Or perhaps this is just nitpicking? Wherever you stand on that bit of public relations/financial/bragging rights semantics, the symbolism of a solar cell manufacturer getting a quarter of its power from its own product is pretty great. Now let's just get that up to 100% and you'd have an even more noteworthy first.

via: Greentech Media
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