3 Megawatts Of Mirrored Solar In Spain

solfocus_concentrating_solar2.jpg

A company called SolFocus (which was spun out of Xerox Palo Alto Research Center in 2006) has started installation of a 3-megawatt solar power plant in southern Spain. SolFocus makes solar cells that use much less silicon than regular panels because they use lenses and mirrors to concentrate sunlight. The solar concentrators magnify sunlight 500 times, which according to the company, is the “sweet spot” between higher energy production and excessive heat.

solfocus_solar_cell.jpg

The blocks have two sets of mirrors: mirrors on bottom face reflect sunlight back to mirrors on the top face, and these in turn reflect the light on to one-millimeter-square photovoltaic cells popped into the center of the bottom mirrors.

solfocus.jpg

Silicon-based solar panels today cost close to $3 per watt to produce. Solfocus says that larger scale production of its concentrators (in the area of gigawatts) would cut the cost per watt to just 50 cents. The second generation version of the device should cut costs further to as low as 32 cents per watt, according to the company.

Via: Press Release

Comments

  1. john says

    Nice to see this idea being seriously tried, but it looks expensive to make. Unless your going to cool the cells and get some heat why use 2 mirrors and lose a few % to another mirror? I’d look into making multiple mirrors in one step instead of combining all those individual ones.

    But seriously, I don’t see this design working on a large scale. You lose light on double reflection and then lose most to PV a cell. You’ll need serious copper because of the DC over distances will cause losses etc. A concentrating steam plant only reflects 1 time to 1 point and it uses most the sunlight; steam to electric conversion is the best tech we have; put those at ideal sizes. Make cheaper heat storage and I think it would help more.

  2. tike says

    Well, to counter your argument John, it doesn’t really matter what tech is involved–be it steam, photovoltaics… what matters most is the final cost to the consumer and the cost to the environment. Percentage efficiency rate is almost meaningless: sunlight is free. If SolFocus can get cheap, clean power to the consumer, they will succeed.

    If they get past the oil companies.

  3. says

    Spain has become, we could say almost ‘ultra active’, in last few years, and especially, after the prime minister appointed almost only women to ministerial positions, even Ministry of defense.
    It looks like the women are much more environmentally educated, perceptive and knowledgeable, than men. I hope, the other governments is going to follow Spanih example, soon.

    p.s.
    There is also correlation between Spain and Germany, where the Prime Minister Angela Merkel, is highly technically educated (Ph.D. in nuclear physics) and is very actively leading Germany into the land of renewable energy sources.

  4. Uncle B says

    At last, the world’s best scientists, armed with the latest technologies are focused on clean, sustainable energy sources. Next, we will need educated population regulation, to match the availability of power and resources. Indiscriminate breeding on a whim, with no financial responsibility to the off-spring will be humanities undoing if not soon controlled!

    • says

      Wrong. If you do some research you will see that as countries become modern and get electric power, modern conveniences, and basically develop into self-sufficient societies, their population stops growing. China, which once had the World’s fastest-growing population, is predicting that their population will level out around 2050 or 2060, with almost no population growth after that. India is expected to do the same. The World population will probably top out at about 10 to 15 billion, which is MUCH less than the World can sustain. There are literally billions of acres of land on Earth, where food can be grown to feed the people. If every person had just 1/4 of an acre and a robot to tend the garden there, there would be no worry about food shortages ever again. Of course that is not the way we do it, but eventually, as the populations grow, we will have plenty of land to feed us all. In fact, with hydroponics and robotics, all the food the entire World needs can be grown simply, cleanly, and with no waste. The technology is already here. As that technology evolves and gets cheaper, it will pervade societies around the globe, and food will become cheaper and cheaper. It will eventually become readily available to everyone. Yes, I know this sounds like a dream, but it is just around the corner. Look into the advances in robotics that are happening today. Robots will be as common in every-day life as smart phones are today. And that will probably happen in just ten years. Ten years after that there will be robots farming land in Zimbabwe, and there will be almost no more famine ever again, anywhere. We are on the verge of a robotics and energy and food revolution like has never been seen in history. By 2050 our biggest problems will be what planet to colonize next (after we colonize Mars).

  5. Mikael says

    Well to me it seems the cheapest and cleaner ever method to produce electrical current !!
    Aluminum foil you can find every were even in the cabage !!!!!!
    You can make a big concave mirror with aluminiu(extreamly cheap) and then add
    a small silicum panel (4cm/4cm) which is only 1$….

    This small silicium panel (4×4) shoud be adjusted just like POWER tranzistors ?!

    Don’t you all know how many kids of tranzistors there are ?!

    This are good news !

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>