US solar capacity set to double

THE US has embarked on the largest building-based photovoltaics installation project yet.

The brains behind the scheme, which has attracted a $1.2billion loan guarantee from the US Department of Energy (DOE), is Drew Torbin, vice-president for renewables at industrial real estate company Prologis.

Mr Torbin, a product of the DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s executive energy leadership programme, has called the scheme Project Amp.

Prologis is to instal photovoltaic (PV) panels on warehouse and distribution centres across the US.

Mr Torbin said: “We call these facilities distribution centres because they serve to distribute goods and are therefore close to population areas and, as a result, close to the grid.

“Project Amp brings new meaning to the term distribution centre because we are now distributing power from those rooftops. In our view, there is no better place from which to distribute power.”

The offer of conditional commitment from the DOE will be the cornerstone of a financing vehicle that can fund up to $2.6billion (£1.58billion) in solar projects on Prologis roofs.

The energy generated from Project Amp after four years is projected to total 733MW of solar power, effectively doubling the total amount of PV power installed in the US in 2010.

“At the end of the day, we are buying land and we are putting a distribution centre on it and using it to create value for that piece of property,” said Mr Torbin.