Solar in distant lands

New deployment, development and production in Fiji, El Salvador, Brazil, Lithuania, and Turkey underscore solar’s increasing geographic diversity

As followers and fans of the Curator know, I love finding new and unexpected locales where solar power has been deployed and manufactured. A recent geographical example is the Pacific island nation of Fiji, where a report in the Jet newspaper relates the story of the first PV-powered supermarket in the country. RB Patel’s Jet Point store in Martintar now sports a 125KW rooftop system, developed by local company Sunergise and built by solar engineering firm Clay Energy. “It brings new meaning to the term ‘greengrocer’!,” said one source in the story.

Across the wide ocean to the east, a fossil fuel concern in the Central American country of El Salvador is building a PV module factory, according to a report in the Photon newsletter based on a story in a local newspaper. Alba Petroleos de El Salvador said it plans begin solar module production at a new manufacturing facility in an as-yet-to-be-announced location by late November. The company has invested $25 million in the PV module factory of undisclosed capacity; “$18 million has been invested in the acquisition of raw materials for module production, $7 million in the construction of the manufacturing facility,” according to the report. The factory’s modules will be distributed in Latin America and Europe.

Solar momentum has been accelerating in Brazil, with some fits and starts, but a recently announced project significantly adds to the World Cup host nation’s PV pipeline. The local unit of European developers Energy Team SRL Brixen says it plans to install 40MW of PV across the stables’ rooftops of a massive dairy farm in Rio Grande do Sul. Construction is set to start early next year and be completed in 2015. The enormous undertaking would spread across multiple structures and would be one of the two largest rooftop systems on the planet, along with a Trina-equipped installation of the same size in Antwerp, Belgium.

One country in Europe not previously associated with solar production—Lithuania–has just seen the commissioning of a new 67MW crystalline-silicon solar cell factory by the BOD Group, featuring a turnkey line equipped by German PV equipment stalwart, Singulus. PV-Tech, PV-magazine and other outlets say that the tool company provides “all key components of the production line, including manufacture of the silicon solar cells and the supply of the wet-chemical facilities required for texturing and cleaning, as well as the vacuum systems for applying antireflective coatings” at the Vilnius facility.

The China Sunergy facility in Turkey has received a fair amount of attention as the first Chinese-owned cell and module manufacturing plant to operate in Europe. Based on a pair of news reports this week, the company’s investment is starting to pay off. CSUN earned TUV Rheinland approval for the trade restriction-free factory, as the modules produced there have passed the necessary tests to garner IEC61215 and IEC61730 certification. The factory, with 300MW of moduling and 100MW of cellmaking capacity, is said to be running at full utilization. Some of that “Made in Turkey” capacity has been deployed for a 66KW PV system built by KosiFrankensolar on an Istanbul school rooftop, the first project equipped with the locally produced modules.