There's a very simple energy brewing behind all the robots busily moving about 24/7 - it's all focused on clean, green electricity. This is the heavily-automated factory of Solyndra - a Fremont-based solar panel manufacturer that's debuting in the market with an innovative design. One it claims is more efficient than conventional flat solar panels.
"We've made use of a cylindrical shape to collect light from all three dimensions, both direct, scattered or diffused light and light that bounces off of the roof, we also collect on the backside with this cylindrical module," said Kelly Truman, VP marketing, sales of Solyndra.
Each of the glass tubes is laser cut with 150 solar cells which use a reflective semiconductor material. Forty tubes are then mounted into each panel. Solyndra says its unique design mounted on simple racks let's the wind flow through, so it doesn't need to be bolted to the roof - that cuts installation costs by 50-percent and installation time by two-thirds compared to traditional solar panels; a cost savings that's already capturing clients.
So far, the largest installation of Solyndra's panels is the 50-kilowatt system on its own roof in Fremont. But by the end of the year, even larger installations of these solar panels will go up around the world - because Solyndra is already fulfilling $1.2 billion in customer contracts.
Its target market are the flat roofs atop thousands of commercial buildings around the world. The company started shipping its solar systems in July. Backed by $600-million of venture capital, Solyndra has been quietly working on its product since 2005. It employs more than 500 people and has plans to hire hundreds more for a second factory it plans to build in Fremont next year - making it an attractive company during these tough economic times.
"We are helping the planet against global warming, while at the same time helping our customers save money on their electric bills," said Truman.