BlueChip Energy LLC (BCE), an independent solar power producer, announced it has signed a letter of intent with Neo Solar Power, a Taiwan-based solar cell manufacturer, for an equity participation in BCE’s 120 MW Sorrento Solar Farm project.
As part of the agreement, Neo Solar Power will contribute at least 10 MW of its high efficiency solar cells for an equity stake in the project, which is currently under construction in Lake County, FL. The cells will be converted into solar panels by Advanced Solar Photonics, BCE’s manufacturing subsidiary. Neo Solar Power focuses on high-efficiency crystalline silicon solar PV cells. As of the second quarter of 2011, the company had installed capacity of 1.3 GW.
“We are delighted to be working with NSP as a partner. They are one of the largest cell producers in the world, their product is top quality and, most importantly, NSP’s executive management understands that to truly thrive in the PV industry, it is necessary to put your product to work in project generating electricity revenue,” said Yongshuang Wang, VP of Strategic Development for BCE.
The LOI between BCE and Neo Solar Power is a major milestone in the US solar power industry as it marks the introduction of a new business model for developing solar power projects, without the use of power purchase agreements (PPAs) and financed by manufacturers themselves, rather than financial institutions. BCE’s new solar power development model will be described in more detail in an upcoming series of Executive Briefings to be released by the company over the next few weeks.
The Sorrento Solar Farm is unique among announced solar power projects in the United States in that it is:
• Fully permitted: Rezoning authorization issued by Lake County Zoning Board and the Lake County Board of Commissioners; Environmental Permit issued by Florida Department of Environmental Protection (permit No ERP35-0307272-001-SI);
• Ideally Located: The project is located on land owned by BCE, gently sloping from north to south (eliminating the need for grading) and adjacent to two substations owned by Progress Energy Florida and SECO; and
• Federally Licensed: The project has Qualifying Facility status (FERC Docket Number QF11-240-000) and Wholesale Generator status (FERC Docket Number EG11-58-000) certified by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
The Sorrento Solar Farm is one of only a few dozen solar projects listed on PV Insider’s Map of Utility Scale Solar Projects in the U.S.
With the growing PV equipment supply glut – solar market research provider Solarbuzz estimates panel oversupply as high as 11 GW in 2012 – technology providers are starting to move “downstream” in the solar value chain to electricity production and sales.
BCE has signed LOIs with other solar panel and cell producers to contribute their products in the first 40 MW stage of the Sorrento Solar Farm and expects to finalize supply and joint venture contracts with them before the Solar Power International trade show in Dallas, October 17-20.