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DOE Offers $535M Loan Guarantee to PV Panel Manufacturer

The US Department of Energy is offering a $535 million loan guarantee for Solyndra, Inc. to support the company’s construction of a commercial-scale manufacturing plant for its proprietary cylindrical solar photovoltaic panels.

Solyndra is the first company to receive an offer for a DOE loan guarantee under Title XVII of the Energy Policy Act of 2005. Solyndra, a Fremont, California-based manufacture, will use the proceeds of the $535 million loan from the US Treasury’s Federal Financing Bank to expand its solar panel manufacturing capacity in California.

Solyndra modules. Click to enlarge.

Solyndra panels employ cylindrical modules which capture sunlight across a 360-degree photovoltaic surface capable of converting direct, diffuse and reflected sunlight into electricity. This self-tracking design allows Solyndra’s PV systems to capture more sunlight than traditional flat-surfaced solar panel.

Solyndra’s photovoltaic systems are designed to provide the lowest installed cost and the highest solar electricity output on commercial, industrial and institutional roof tops.

Further, Solyndra’s PV systems are fast and economical to install due to the simple horizontal mounting and unique air-flow properties of the solar panels. Solyndra’s panels are fully certified for US and international use and have been commercially shipping since July 2008.

The guaranteed loan, expected to provide debt financing for approximately 73% of the project costs, will allow Solyndra to initiate construction of a second solar panel fabrication facility (Fab 2) in California. On completion, Fab 2 is expected to have an annual manufacturing capacity of 500 MW per year.

Solyndra and DOE will finalize the transaction upon completion of definitive documentation and satisfaction of certain conditions precedent. Over the life of the project, Solyndra estimates that Fab 2 will produce solar panels sufficient to generate up to 15 gigawatts of clean, renewable electricity—enough to avoid 300 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions.



This appears to make good sense. Now if there can be an expansion of installers and mechanics - the job creation portion of solar will accelerate. DOE and Congress should devise follow on strategies that take the next step after manufacturing - i.e. sales and installation infrastructure.

You can have the best solar cylinder in the world - but if no one's around to sell or install it - little progress results.


If no one can afford to buy it or there is no financing to pay for it, then it does not go very far either. There was a saying that went "nothing happens until something is sold". I used to think that was just sales talk. Over the years I have seen the wisdom of that saying.


@ SJC...did you ever work at McAfee?

Supposedly Solyndra has lined up big contracts with middlemen suppliers and installers, which is part of how they're qualifying for these loans and VC.

That said, Nanosolar has blogged a rebuttal of the whole approach of tubular PV on light-colored flat roofs.

I think there is lots of room for low-cost gear and efficient deployment approaches. It sounds like Solyndra has made a pretty low-cost installation system. I don't know how durable it is in a hail storm, or resistant it is to burglary, let alone how good the energy yeild is...but hopefully we'll see some 1-year study of an actual deployment show up in a published case study or something, soon.

As to customers getting financing...I think there will be adequate financiing for the first several hundred megawatts of capacity per year. It won't cross the chasm until funding gets better...but there may be Obama bucks for end-customers too.


No, I never worked to McAfee. I would guess that if the solar material is cheap enough, you can roll it up and get a "3D" effect. Reflected is not as good as direct, but if this is what venture funding is doing these days, more power to them.


Healthy B
Thanks for the link.
I like to think that flat panels could replace the roofing material or second best offer a weather proofing and insulating advantages to a standard roof.
Its the Economics is very much relevant in this industry and material use efficiency low footprint all come to mind.
If tubular panels are as poor in all these respects as your article suggests 'may be the case'(my emphasis), there is little merit in the proposed application.
It would be interesting to hear a rebuttal.

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