Monday, September 29, 2008

SolFocus in Focus

SolFocus, based in Google Land (Mountain View, California), has been making all sorts of news in recent days. It announced the completion of its first commercial installation, consisting of 500 kw worth of concentrating photovoltaic (CPV) equipment in Spain. SolFocus’ installation is part of a larger 3 MW project spread across two power plants that three different companies are building for its first phase at the Institute of Concentration Photovoltaic Systems (ISFOC) in Puertollano.

SolFocus also announced that it was forming a CPV industry consortium with other participatnts of the ISFOC project, including Concentrix Solar, Emcore, Isofoton and ISFOC itself with the goal of accelerating the development of CPV into the mainstream. One of the practical steps the consortium may undertake is to set standards within the CPV for measuring efficiencies:

People measure it every which way," [Nancy Hartsoch, vice president of marketing for SolFocus] said. "Some talk about panel efficiency, some talk about system efficiency, and some will only talk about [a mirror or lens]. It can be very confusing to developers trying to figure out 'How much energy do I get at the end of the day?' We will work to figure out standards so they can compare apples to apples."

Separately, SolFocus announced that its CPV modules have met the safety and reliability standards of the California Energy Commission and have been placed on the list of approved equipment suppliers for the California Solar Initiative, which will allow SolFocus to participate in the Golden’s State’s solar rebates. According to GreenTech Media, this announcement sets the stage for a possible future announcement of a Californian desert project scheduled for the second quarter of next year.

Let’s take a closer look at their technology.

SolFocus Technology

A review of SolFocus technology on their website is broadly reminiscent of the technology of Nevada competitor, Sunrgi, which we reviewed in May. Essentially, SolFocus’ systems adopt mini-dish designs, concentrating sunlight by some 500 times through arrarys of primary and secondary mirrors onto an optical rod which channels the light onto an area of high efficiency, multi-junction solar cell material (with efficiencies approaching 40%). The systems are mounted onto their proprietary dual-axis (i.e. x and y axis) tracking systems to optimize their alignment to the sun.

The winning features of their design, according to company’s website, is that their systems use just 1/1000th of active material found in standard solar cells, that 95% of the systems is made of aluminum and glass which is readily sourced globally, and that it the systems are designed for durability by being fully enclosed so as to protect its internal components from the elements.

Unlike Sungri’s systems, which rely on special heat dissipating technology, SolFocus’ cells are so small, they can be cooled passively without fans, according to this article.

The following YouTube video throws more color to the SolFocus story:




In the meantime, SolFocus is seeking capital to ramp up its production towards fulfilling its mission of achieving grid-parity (“The SolFocus mission is to enable solar energy generation at a Levelized Cost of Energy (LCOE) competitive with traditional fossil fuel sources”) for CPV.

2 comments:

Solar said...

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Solar said...

That is Awesome...If your going to buy a Solar Panels, Make sure that the Solar Panels are in Good Quality and Affordable..

For more details visit:
solar power | solar energy | solar panels