Solyndra, makers of cylindrical thin film solar cells, this week signed a deal with Southern California Edison (SCE) to install solar systems on the roofs of 18 big box retail stores and industrial buildings. When complete in 2011, the photovoltaic solar arrrays will provide 16.2 megawatts of electricity for SCE.
It’s been a busy month for Solyndra, with not all the news being good. Earlier this year, Solyndra announced plans for an Initial Public Offering (IPO), but then cancelled those plans in June. And this week, Solyndra replaced its CEO, by bringing in former Intel exec Brian Harrison to replace founder Chris Gronet. (Gronet is staying on as executive chairman.)
SCE has been pushing distributed local power generation through the use of small scale solar projects. By utilizing existing space where electricity is used, you don’t need to build transmission lines to bring in the electricity from remote large scale solar farms. Solyndra feels that their tubular solar cells are ideally suited for rooftops – even though their cost per watt is very high, their lightweight thin film solar panels can be installed on roofs that are not designed to support large amounts of additional weight. These types of roofs are very often found on big box stores like Walmart. Solyndra also says that their cylindrical modules allows wind to pass through (unlike the panels from competitors like Nanosolar), which eliminates the requirement for heavy brackets and weighting that’s needed for flat solar panels and greatly reduces installation costs.