*every month the CleanEnergyBlogger Steering committee will choose one or two interesting company which will be selected out of a list created by the CleanEnergyBlogger team, plus companies that have announced a significant achievement during the month, plus companies that have approached the CleanEnergyBlogger with a brief presentation that has intrigued us to share it with our readers. We realize this is an arbitrary – definitely not a scientific selection – but it is being selected by professionals*
You are invited to propose Companies via the following email:
and refer to the following criteria:
Criteria One: the soundness, technical merit of its technology
Criteria Two: the qualifications of its team
Criteria Three: the potential of the company to become No. One in its field, OR: the
potential for commercial applications and the ability to
commercialize the technology (in case it is yet in an early stage).
Company on the Focus: SkyFuel
A short while ago SkyFuel revealed their reflector technology, based on mirror film instead of the conventional glass mirrors – the ReflecTech™. As solar towers, dishes and other solar thermal technology solutions for electricity production, rather than parabolic troughs – are not in commercial stage yet – the importance of developing cheaper, but not less efficient and stable solutions for the trough based technology – is crucial. . SkyFuel solution really looks promising and could be a significant step towards reducing production costs, mainly due to lighter support frame required (much less material and faster assembly process) and reduction in trough replacement costs. The ReflecTech™ mirror film is a silver-based metallized polymer film reflector, which was developed by NREL. SF is laminating the ReflecTech™ to an aluminum substrate to form a rigid reflective surface, and has designed an aluminum space frame to support the reflector, as well as control, drive and tracking system.
As much as we think that the ReflecTech is unique and contributes to lower production and installation costs and lower O&M costs of the solar field (although not necessarily higher efficiencies, durability, availability and performance), the space frame and the tracking system – are not something that others cannot do (or already doing). The space frame, as opposed to a torque-tube, that is still being used by Solel and was in use by LUZ – is naturally lighter (we may guess 30% less from the 10 Tonns required for the metal support structure of a similar glass mirror) and it was designed for erection in the field, inorder to obtain the required optical performance of the trough.. Also their solar tracking system enjoys some advantages comparing to the systems used in SEGS, probably with lower costs and increased precision, but we have to remember that their competitors have also developed enhanced tracking systems. We assume that SF does not enjoy any performance advantage in this respect, beside its ability to design the tracking system in-house and probably with lower costs.
SF did not reveal (yet?) performance tests based on the 6 years experience of the ReflecTech operating in the Mojave Desert under changing daily conditions and different operation modes, as well as the accelerated weather testing. However, unless we receive something conclusive that contradict this, we may assume that at the best scenario SF solar field will have similar thermal output (although probably worthier durability) compared to existing reflectors, but we have to remember that they are using non-breakable reflector design (is it rigid enough for the long run – should be seen); predicted lower O&M costs, faster assembly process and may enjoy significant cost reduction in the support structure and reflectors. And not less important: It seems that SF has supporting staff to enable them to carry out the work of designing a solar field, supervising the construction of it and train the operation staff.
Company of this month: CONCENTRIX
Concentrix Solar is a spin-off of Fraunhofer (a very famous institute in Germany). It has received its first financing already in 2005 from Good Energies, an investment company in the solar photovoltaics industry. (Good Energies invested also in other companies like Q-Cells).
Concentrix’s basic technologies differ as well as their research partners, and management team.
Concentrix has already begun delivering demonstration modules to strategic partners – like Abengoa, that has invested in the co-operation, which was started a few months ago. Lately they have announced that during the measurement period in May 2008, AC system efficiencies of 23% were achieved, and higher were measured under normal operating conditions for a demonstration system located at the test site of Abengoa Solar in Seville, Spain.
Concentrix is now constructing a 25 MW production line in Freiburg, Germany, and plans to start operations in Fall 2008.
Concentrix is using Fresnel lens, but inorder to avoid the disadvantages of the plastic made Fresnel, they use their unique FLATCON® (Fresnel Lens All-glass Tandem cell Concentrator) technology; where the Fresnel lenses are fabricated in a silicone film on the inside of the module top glass plate, and the entire module housing is also made of glass to avoid thermal mismatch with the different materials.
One of the technology disadvantages: Concentrix has less wider acceptance angle (of 0.6° comparing to SolFocus +/-1°, for example); the meaning is that their tracking systems should be more accurate and more expensive. Also, Concentrix has more conservative plans to achieve a module cost of €1.23 per Watt at 20MWp production levels and fully installed costs, including the inverter, tracker hardware, and installation, of €2.35 per Watt. (~3.75USD),
**However, the CleanEnergyBlogger team prefers these conservative assumptions rather than others that claim to achieve in mass production 2USD per watt
Concentrix is targeting large solar electric installations of commercial, industrial, and power station scale. While others are more optimistic about the application of their products outside the sunlight rich areas, we like the conservatism of Concentrix that say that their FLATCON modules will only be competitive in locations such as southern Europe, North Africa, or the American southwest.**