SolFocus Partners with Bechtel to Deliver Renewable Power for California Agribusiness

California pistachio farm is the home of the first concentrating photovoltaic plant in California’s Central Valley

SolFocus' CPV solar arrays power Nichols Farm, a pistachio farm in Hanford, Calif. (Photo: Business Wire)

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif.--()--SolFocus, Bechtel Power Corporation and developer Sol Orchard, announced today that a one megawatt high concentrator photovoltaic (CPV) power plant was completed for Nichols Farms in Hanford, CA. This is the latest in a string of distributed generation projects that SolFocus has completed and continues CPV on the path to utility-scale generation. The SolFocus installation will produce 2,244 million kilowatt hours (kWh) in the first year, which is roughly 70 percent of the processing facility electricity demand. The power plant, located on six acres adjacent to the pistachio processing facility, consists of 119 8.8 kilowatt SolFocus SF-1100S CPV systems. The plant, which utilizes the SolFocus SF-1100S CPV systems, was designed and built by Bechtel, and is now connected to the regional electrical grid serviced by SoCal Edison.

“As an integrated grower, processor, and marketer of pistachios, I appreciate the value of harnessing natural resources in an efficient, sustainable manner,” said Chuck Nichols, owner of Nichols Farms. “That’s why I selected SolFocus CPV from a list of solar options. The high energy yield combined with the superior environmental footprint of the SolFocus systems made it an ideal choice for our facility which processes pistachios for farmers throughout the Central Valley of California.”

California’s central valley region has significant solar resources and a wealth of agricultural business that can benefit from the implementation of innovative solar technology. The Nichols Farms project is delivering lower operating costs, and the impact of future increasing energy costs has been minimized.

“Helping to advance high-efficiency, large scale solar energy is a strategic interest for Bechtel,” said Ian Copeland, President of Bechtel’s Renewable Power division. “The SolFocus system provides a combination of high efficiency CPV with rapid installation capabilities that can deliver cost competitive power very quickly.”

“This CPV agribusiness project with Nichols Farms is the first of its kind in North America,” said Mark Crowley, CEO of SolFocus. “It demonstrates how SolFocus technology can easily accommodate a wide variety of energy demands that farms and other agricultural sites need. The CPV industry has announced several large projects that will have a significant impact in upcoming years. However, it is this type of distributed generation solar plant which can immediately impact sustainability across a broad range of applications. Chuck Nichols’ visionary view of sustainable farming is to be commended.”

“All of California is rich in renewable resources – sun, wind, geothermal, and biomass. Across the world, solar companies know about the powerful solar insolation in the Colorado and Mojave deserts. We’re really pleased to see that this new and growing industry is investing in our Central Valley too,” commented Michael Picker, Special Advisor to the Governor for Renewable Energy Facilities.

“As a Hanford native, I know how essential agriculture is to the local economy of the 30th District,” said Assemblyman David Valadao. “By increasing energy and cost efficiency through the deployment of SolFocus CPV solar technology, Nichols Farms demonstrates the next generation of solar technology and sustainable agriculture. I am proud to witness the merger of renewable energy innovation and agribusiness here at Nichols Farms.”

Solar project developer Sol Orchard introduced the concept to Nichols Farms, and developed the project from concept to completion. “This is the third project we have developed utilizing SolFocus technology,” commented Sol Orchard President Jeff Brothers. “The high energy yield and reliable products allow us to move forward on projects quickly and with good financial results. Bringing Bechtel in as the contractor gave us assurance that when the switch was flipped, we’d have a robust power plant capable of delivering on all of its expectations.”

SolFocus CPV technology employs a system of patented reflective optics to concentrate sunlight 650 times onto small, highly efficient solar cells. The SolFocus SF-1100S system being deployed at the farm features dual axis tracking for consistent energy delivery. It also offers environmental benefits including no water usage for energy production, a small land footprint with dual use potential, and no permanent shadowing or wildlife corridor disruption. Additionally, SolFocus CPV provides the shortest energy payback and lowest greenhouse gas (GHG) intensity of any solar technology. In solar-rich regions SolFocus CPV technology yields significantly more energy than other technologies with an extremely light environmental footprint.

About SolFocus

SolFocus is a leading developer and manufacturer of solar energy systems based on Concentrator Photovoltaic (CPV) technology. The company’s mission is to deliver the lowest cost of solar energy in high solar resource regions of the world. Achieving this objective starts with developing industry-leading, high-efficiency products which deliver the highest energy harvest of any technology available today. When combined with volume manufacturing and component sourcing the technology drives delivery and operation costs to their lowest. In addition to low costs, SolFocus produces product that provides extended reliability and field durability, critical requirements when deploying energy systems which will remain productive in the field for over 25 years. Currently SolFocus is actively deploying product around the globe. SolFocus products can be seen operating today in Arizona, Colorado, California, Hawaii, Italy, Portugal, Greece, Spain, Australia, and Malaysia. SolFocus CPV systems are certified to the rigorous standards of IEC 62108, and are backed by Munich Re performance insurance. For more information on SolFocus visit www.solfocus.com.

About Bechtel

Bechtel is one of the world's premier engineering, construction, and project management companies. Since its founding in 1898, Bechtel has worked on more than 23,000 projects in 140 countries and all seven continents. Today, its 52,000 professional and craft employees are teamed with customers, partners, and suppliers on hundreds of projects in more than 40 countries. Bechtel has been a leader in the emerging technology and renewable energy markets for more than 30 years. Bechtel continues that tradition today, helping customers build a sustainable energy portfolio. For more information about Bechtel visit www.bechtel.com.

About Nichols Farms

Since 1960, Nichols Farms has tilled the fertile soil of the San Joaquin Valley in California. Two generations of the Nichols family work together to grow, process, package and market pistachios. Nichols Farms is focused on supplying the highest quality conventional and organic pistachio and almond products to consumers. Nichols Farms pistachios ship under the Nichols Farms brand across the United States, and to markets around the world. Sustainable farming is a highly held value for all operations at Nichols Farms. For more information about Nichols Farms visit http://nicholsfarms.com.

About Sol Orchard

Sol Orchard, LLC was founded by an entrepreneur who has had successful ventures in farming and in banking. In addition, the Sol Orchard team has deep experience with electrical power project development in California and around the world. Sol Orchard specializes in ground-mounted, solar PV power projects and partners with land owners with underutilized land to develop it into revenue-generating or operating expense-off-setting use. Working with Sol Orchard land owners can choose from a variety of roles from simple lease arrangements to full ownership of the solar power farm. Sol Orchard is currently working to bring online a portfolio of projects that totals 60 MW. For more information on Sol Orchard visit www.solorchard.com.

Photos/Multimedia Gallery Available: http://www.businesswire.com/cgi-bin/mmg.cgi?eid=6667474&lang=en

Contacts

SolFocus, Inc.
Nancy Hartsoch, 408-209-9250 (cell)
VP of Marketing
nancy_hartsoch@solfocus.com
or
Bechtel Corporation
Michelle Allen, 301-228-8946
Corporate Communications
Media Relations
Cell: 240-344-1715
mmallen@bechtel.com
or
Sol Orchard
Jeff Brothers, 831-277-5333 (cell)
or
Edelman
Joey Marquart, 650-762-2987
joey.marquart@edelman.com

Contacts

SolFocus, Inc.
Nancy Hartsoch, 408-209-9250 (cell)
VP of Marketing
nancy_hartsoch@solfocus.com
or
Bechtel Corporation
Michelle Allen, 301-228-8946
Corporate Communications
Media Relations
Cell: 240-344-1715
mmallen@bechtel.com
or
Sol Orchard
Jeff Brothers, 831-277-5333 (cell)
or
Edelman
Joey Marquart, 650-762-2987
joey.marquart@edelman.com