Soitec, part of Euronext Paris, has announced that the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is giving them a SUNPATH award in the amount of $25 million to support its new North American solar manufacturing facility in San Diego, California.

SUNPATH, which stands for Scaling Up Nascent PV At Home, is part of the U.S. governments controversial efforts to increase America's manufacturing competitiveness in the solar market.

Last December, Soitec acquired a 176,000-square-foot manufacturing center on 14.8 acres of land located in San Diego to support over 300 megawatts (MW) of projects throughout San Diego and Imperial Counties. The new factory will enable a manufacturing capacity of 200 MW (275 MWp) of Soitec's fifth generation of Concentrix™ concentrator photovoltaic (CPV) modules, and will be the world's largest CPV manufacturing facility.

CPV technology converts sunlight directly into  electricity via concentrator optics and solar cells offering the best design for use in sunny regions. Soitec's fifth generation CPV modules, to be manufactured at the San Diego facility, were developed to reduce installation costs while implementing improved system optics to further increase the efficiency levels of the CPV modules. Soitec says their fifth generation Concentrix™ CPV modules provide a market-leading 30% module efficiency. 

They estimate a cost of more than $150 million and creation of 450 on-site jobs and 1,000 indirect jobs at full capacity. Construction is currently underway, and the first phase is scheduled to be operational by the fourth quarter of 2012.

"This SUNPATH award will accelerate the production and output of Soitec's first large-scale CPV module manufacturing facility in San Diego," said Clark Crawford vice president of Sales and Business Development USA. "We are honored by this new partnership with the DOE and their support for CPV deployments in the US represented by this award."

"The decision of the DOE to award Soitec with the largest share of the SUNPATH award provides a strong endorsement of our CPV technology," added Gaetan Borgers, Executive VP of Soitec Solar Energy Division. "The SUNPATH award adds support to our view that CPV is best-suited for regions with extremely hot ambient temperatures and dry weather conditions like the American Southwest."

The SUNPATH award will be finalized pending completion of the contract negotiations with the DOE.