WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has finalized a $535 million loan guarantee for Solyndra Inc., which manufactures innovative cylindrical solar photovoltaic panels. The funding will finance construction of the first phase of the company’s new manufacturing facility. Annual production of solar panels from the first phase is expected to provide energy equivalent to powering 24,000 homes a year or over half a million homes over the project’s lifetime. Solyndra estimates the new plant will initially create 3,000 construction jobs, and lead to as many as 1,000 jobs once the facility opens, in addition to hundreds of jobs for installers of the solar panels.

Solyndra is the first recipient of a loan guarantee under the Recovery Act and Title XVII of the Energy Policy Act of 2005. In addition, the loan guarantee issued to Solyndra is the first issued by DOE since the 1980s.

To produce its solar panels, Solyndra deposits thin films of copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS), a photovoltaic material, on the inner surface of glass tubes, which are then hermetically sealed on both ends with metal caps. The glass tubes are then assembled into large, flat solar panels.

The cylindrical design enables the CIGS material to capture direct, diffuse, and reflected sunlight, allowing the panels to be mounted flat and close together. This makes greater use of rooftop area than a traditional flat solar panel, which is typically mounted in racks that tilt the panels toward the sun. The design also allows air to flow through the panels, keeping the operating temperature down and reducing wind loads, which in turn makes installation easier. Solyndra’s panels will be primarily used in the growing market for solar power systems installed on large, flat commercial rooftops.

Publication date:09/21/2009