As the end to the 30% Investment Tax Credit (ITC) looms, U.S. utility scale projects continue to be constructed at pace. The latest to get underway is the 102 MW Henrietta project in central California.
SunPower is building and supplying the plant and will also roll out its robotic module cleaning solution at the plant. The robot module cleaning system was acquired by SunPower in 2013, when it purchased the startup Greenbotics. The Greenbotics robots are provided as a component of the SunPowers Oasis Power plant. SunPower claims the Greenbotics solution can deliver a 15% system performance improvement, while using 75% less water when compared to traditional cleaning methods.
The SunPower Oasis system, is module and the firm says it has been designed to rapidly build projects in a cost-effective manner, while making the best use of available land. The Henrietta array is expected to be operational by the end of 2016.
SunPower reports that it has designed, built and supplied 5.8 GW of PV projects globally. The company is currently moving forwards with plans to launch a joint yieldco with First Solar.
The outlook for the large scale solar market in the U.S., if the ITC is reduced as planned from 30% to 10% at the end of 2016, is unclear. While the growth of solar projects outside of Renewable Portfolio Standards is a positive sign, some analysts are skeptical as to whether the momentum the industry has built can be maintained.