Chevron Technology Ventures
Chevron Mining Inc., a subsidiary of oil giant Chevron Corp., has announced plans to build the "largest concentrating solar photovoltaic power (CPV) plant in the nation" at a tailings site in northern New Mexico".
CSP is such a unusual and complex hybrid technology that many expected major investors to steer well clear - but not Chevron.
Chevron Technology Ventures will build the $10 million, 1MW CPV system on the tailing site of a mine in Questa, New Mexico and it sounds like its going to be pretty impressive. Chevron says the site will consist of 175 solar panels over a massive 20 acres - construction will start this Spring and is planned to be finished before the end of the year - and when completed it will be the largest CPV installation in the US and one of the largest in the world.
Meeting the world's energy needs
Unlike concentrating solar thermal plants (CSP), the CPV installation at Questa will use lenses to focus sunlight onto three-layer solar cells. The technology is thought to be twice as efficient as traditional solar panels and will use less photovoltaic material, company officials said.
Chevron will use CPV technology from Concentrix Solar, a Freiburg, Germany-based company that was spun out of the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems in 2005, and was sold to microelectronics supplier the Soitec Group in December. (Soitec bought 80 percent of the shares and 20 percent remain owned by Fraunhofer ISE and the company's founders and senior management).
Like its competitor BP, Chevron insist that alternative energy is an essential part of its energy mix to help the world meet its energy needs.
According to the company web site: "Meeting the world's growing demand for energy requires a broad mix of energy sources and unprecedented advances in technology. Chevron Technology Ventures Investments works to meet that challenge."
Using contaminated sites for renewable energy
Contrary to the opinion of many, Desmond King, president of Chevron Technology Ventures insists the company really do care about the development of alternative energy sources and is determined to revolutionize the clean-tech sector: "This new technology, if it demonstrates and works well, has the potential to make a step change in the amount of energy we can get out of a solar panel."
The site in Questa is a brownfield site and so the will benefit from the development. The idea of using brownfields or other contaminated sites for renewable energy development is gathering support rapidly across America
The Chevron Questa mine, which produces the metal molybdenum used in steel alloys, made news last year when the recession forced the mine to cut 50 percent of its staff. So it comes at little surprise that New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, who made the announcement, is standing behind turning the tailing site of the mine into a site for clean power.
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