This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

September 09, 2009

DOE Finalizes $535 Million Loan Guarantee for Solyndra

DOE has finalized a $535 million loan guarantee for Solyndra, Inc., a Fremont, California, company that manufactures innovative solar photovoltaic panels. The loan guarantee is the first using American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds, and the first from DOE since the 1980s. In the September 4 announcement by Vice President Joe Biden, he noted that the money will finance construction of the first phase of the company's new manufacturing facility, which will have the capacity to produce 500 megawatts of solar panels per year. Solyndra estimates the new plant will initially create 3,000 construction jobs and will lead to as many as 1,000 jobs once the facility opens, in addition to hundreds of new jobs throughout the country for installers of the solar power systems.

Photo from beneath a Solyndra solar panel, looking down a length of tubing with converging tubes above, converging shadows below, and support structures in the center.

This view from beneath a Solyndra solar panel shows blue sky through the gaps between the glass tubes, which cast shadows on the surface below. Support structures hold the panels about 10 inches above their mounting surface.
Credit: Solyndra, Inc.

Solyndra also started construction of the new facility on September 4, with Energy Secretary Steven Chu and California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger lending a hand for the groundbreaking. The facility will employ a new and highly innovative process for manufacturing Solyndra's solar panels. Solyndra deposits thin films of copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS), a photovoltaic material, on the inner surface of glass tubes, which are then hermetically sealed on both ends with a metal caps. The glass tubes are then assembled into large, flat solar panels.

The cylindrical design enables the CIGS material to capture direct, diffuse, and reflected sunlight, allowing the panels to be mounted flat and close together. This makes greater use of the rooftop area than a traditional flat solar panel, which is typically mounted in racks that tilt the panels toward the sun. The design also allows air to flow through the panels, keeping the operating temperature down and reducing wind loads, which in turn makes installation easier. Solyndra's panels will be primarily used in the fast-growing market for solar power systems installed on large, flat rooftops. See the press releases from DOE and Solyndra, the Web site for the DOE Loan Guarantee Program, and Solyndra's overview of its solar panel technology.

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