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Hydro provides aluminium support structures for largest CPV solar plant in Latin America

A precision-extruded aluminium framing system manufactured by Hydro has been installed at a 500-kilowatt electric generation facility in Durango, Mexico, the largest concentrated photovoltaic (CPV) solar facility in Latin America.

The Durango site, located about 550 miles north of Mexico City, already is designated to expand to 10 megawatts total capacity in the near future.

The solar plant comprises 184 Skyline Solar X14 arrays. It uses parabolic mirrors to concentrate sunlight onto crystalline silicon PV cells. These arrays are mounted on extruded aluminium space frames that raise them off the ground and allow them to track the sun through its daily east-west arc.

Extruded aluminium was chosen for the frame structures because it provides efficient material utilization, low capital costs and short development times. Aluminium is corrosion-resistant and provides high stiffness to resist wind, improving this system's accuracy and robustness.

"Our solar engineering specialists worked with Skyline's team to review their design and were able to help optimize the frame design and identify cost-saving opportunities using Hydro's extensive library of alloys and extrusion expertise," says Allan Bennett, who is responsible for solar market development for Hydro's Extrusion North America unit.

"Together, the engineering teams were able to remove 40 percent of the structural material used in early frame prototypes. That reduced Skyline's costs for raw materials, manufacturing and shipping."

In sunny climates, CPV is the lowest cost solar technology for medium (less than 20 MW) and large-scale electricity generating facilities. Today, these constitute the fastest growing portion of the solar market.

Skyline Solar manufactures integrated concentrated photovoltaic systems, incorporating industry-proven silicon cells, durable mirrors and single-axis tracking. The company was founded in 2007 and is funded by New Enterprise Associates (NEA) and other investors. It has been awarded contracts by the U.S. Department of Energy and Department of Defense. Skyline Solar has 11 patents to date on its CPV architecture.

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