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Solar Roundup: $75,000 for Wastewater Plant, GE, IKEA, Formula 1

A 1,316-solar panel system, which was supported by a $1.8 million grant from renewable energy stimulus funds, was recently installed at the southern wastewater treatment plant in Weslaco, Texas. The solar panels will absorb enough energy to power the plant and feed extra into the electric grid, which amounts to about $75,000 in savings per year. Weslaco is one of 45 Texas cities that received money from the State Energy Conservation Office’s Distributed Renewable Energy Technology Program for its solar project.

General Electric suspended construction of a 400 MW thin-film solar panel factory in Colorado for at least 18 months in response to market conditions within the solar manufacturing industry. The factory was the centerpiece of a $600 million investment in cadmium telluride thin-film solar cells, the same semiconductor used by market leader First Solar. GE will shift its focus and investment towards R&D and improving the efficiency of thin-film technology developed by Colorado-based startup PrimeStar, which the company acquired last year.

Home furnishing retailer IKEA has installed two solar systems at stores in Houston and Canton, Michigan, which together will prevent the equivalent of 1,564 tons of carbon dioxide emissions. The 122,000-square-foot installation in Canton is a 977.6 kW system that will produce about 1,114,943 kWh of electricity each year, IKEA said. The Houston store has a 813 kW system, built with 3,388 solar panels. IKEA owns and operates each of its solar PV energy systems atop its buildings, as opposed to a solar lease or power purchase agreement. The Houston and Canton installations are IKEA’s 19th and 20th solar projects in the US, with 20 more underway.

Trina Solar installed a 29 kW PV array that will help power the Lotus Formula 1 team’s headquarters located near Oxford, UK. The rooftop array, which consists of 128 panels, provides about 75 percent of the power for a racetrack simulator at the Lotus facility. China’s Trina Solar has already installed solar PV panels on the Formula 1 team’s motorhome, which is used to host the team and VIP guests at European F1 races.

Solar developer 8minutenergy Renewables signed a Generation Interconnection Agreement with the California Independent Systems Operator Corporation and San Diego Gas & Electric for 200 MW of utility-scale solar PV power from its project in Imperial Valley, Calif. Under the agreement, 8minutenergy will upgrade SDG&E’s power network. The solar project is scheduled to start construction in early 2014 and begin delivering renewable energy to the utility in December 2014. The project will produce about 500 million kWh of electricity a year, enough to serve 72,000 households in the utility’s service territory. 

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