March 6, 2008 / 5:01 AM / 11 years ago

MMA Renewables funds Arizona thin film solar plant

LOS ANGELES, March 5 (Reuters) - Power plant builder and operator MMA Renewable Ventures, on Wednesday said it will build a solar electric system in Arizona to power a thin-film solar plant for manufacturer Global Solar.

MMA will finance a 750-kilowatt facility, which will power Global Solar’s Tucson, Arizona manufacturing plant. Global Solar agreed to buy electricity from MMA for 25 years.

“It’s sort of like a marketing tool,” Global Solar Chief Executive Mike Gering said in an interview. “If you came to our plant, you are going to drive right by 750 kilowatts of our product that is furnishing energy to us.”

Financial terms were not disclosed for the project.

The project will mark the first commercial-scale deployment of Global Solar’s thin-film solar cells made with copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS).

Global Solar’s solar cells cost less to make than those made from many rival photovoltaic solar technologies, the company said, because they do not contain silicon.

Silicon is the key raw material used to make most solar cells and panels, and prices on it have soared in recent years as demand for solar projects has taken off.

“We frequently look at technologies that are outside the box,” MMA Renewables’ Miriam Serxner, who worked on the Global Solar deal, said in an interview. “Eventually thin film is going to be cheap enough that we are going to be able to do lots of projects with this.”

Solon America Corporation will design and install the power plant, and Global Solar’s cells will be incorporated into modules made by Solon. The plant is expected to begin operation in the fall of 2008.

According to Global Solar, the project will offset 30,000 tons of carbon dioxide over its expected 25-year lifetime. (Reporting by Nichola Groom; editing by carol Bishopric)

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