The San Diego area has been building out a special electrical transmission line, called the Sunrise Powerlink, which is opening up possibilities of creating utility-scale renewable energy options in nearby but less-populated areas. For example, San Diego Gas & Electric, recently signed a deal with energy developer Tenaska Solar Ventures to build a 150-megawatt solar facility in neighboring Imperial County.

Interestingly, Tenaska is bringing in a French company, Soitec, which has a proprietary concentrating solar-energy system that uses a multilayered photovoltaic system instead of the typical CSP arrangements that use mirrors to focus sunlight on tubes or a single pylon. Soitec has an animation of their concentrating photovoltaic technology here (image below is from the animation).

The Tenaska/Soitec facility, dubbed the Imperial Solar Energy Center West, is scheduled to be completed in 2015, but it appears to be just one Soitec project. The company says it will be building a manufacturing facility in the San Diego area to make the units for ISEC West. The plant will have an annual production capacity of 200 megawatts, and Soitec says it will be marketing its CPV modules to other large-scale developer/investor groups.

Groundbreaking for ISEC West is planned for 2013 and it is supposed to supply enough power for 55,000 homes. It is not clear how many jobs ISEC West will add, but Soitec’s new plant can employ 450 at full manufacturing capacity.

The 117-mile Sunrise Powerlink is an overground/underground transmission system that is expected to be completed in 2012, and a key component of the regions goal of generating 33 percent of its energy requirements from renewable sources by 2020.