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My First View of Solyndra Up Close



Solyndra CIGS Panels on South Houston High

I had a chance to see my first Solyndra solar panels in action today.
Three organizations run by friends of mine, HARC, Ignite Solar, and American Electric Technologies, are partnered up to install a 145 kW uber photovoltaic test bed on two schools (Sam Rayburn and South Houston) in Pasadena ISD in Houston, Texas.  They were scrambling around on the roof doing the installation as I watched. A very cool experience.

They’re stuffing an array of 182 Wp Solyndra panels across from an array of 210 Wp Moser Baer crystalline silicon panels on a flat roof penetrating fixed mounting at a 10 degree angle, next door to Uni-Solar amorphous silicon flexible panels (there photovoltaic laminate products) from Energy Conversion Devices (Nasdaq:ENER) with a non penetrating adhesive backing on a 22 degree ribbed roof next to more of the Moser Baer in a non roof penetrating mount on that 22 degree roof. Later they’re putting in more Moser Baer crystalline on trackers.

Unisolar Stick on Amorphous Panels

All the systems are to be wired up to AETI inverters, and will have a weather station, temperature sensors and monitoring.  HARC, the Houston Area Research Council is the system owner, and will monitor the lab for Pasadena ISD, plus they are putting in a kiosk in the schools so the students can see the side by side results live, technology vs technology and school vs school.

A few interesting tidbits.  You gotta love all those slef shadows underneath the 90 Solyndra modules, we will be very interested to see what they actually deliver – though for the price difference, it had better be spectacular.   I hadn’t seen the Uni-Solar product just stuck straight on to a roof before, quite amazing.  The Moser Baer product I’d seen, but it’ll be interesting to watch it go head to head with thin film in different configurations, it’s certainly got the highest power rating of the systems tested.

What really excites me is the side by side comparison.  Ignite and HARC told me they can get actual performance data from each technology type and configuration, that we can compare to costs and rated performance, as well as weather and temperature data, and hopefully this time next year we’ll be publishing a who beat who account with an overunder graph!

Neal Dikeman is a Partner and Jane Capital Partners, a cleantech and alternative energy merchant bank.  He was a cofounder of Zenergy Power, and the founding CEO of Carbonflow, and helped launch Meridan Energy’s solar business, as well as is Chief Blogger of Cleantechblog.com and Chairman of Cleantech.org. A Texas Aggie, his current project is helping grow Jane Capital’s most recent company, Greenhome.com.