Honolulu—September 14, 2011—Sopogy, the world leader in micro concentrated solar power (MicroCSP), has been named a GoingGreen Global 200 award winner for the third year running.
Industry experts, including professionals from Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Hewlett-Packard, KPMG and Silicon Valley Bank, selected Sopogy to be amongst the best 200 private cleantech companies from around the world to win the award.
Rodney Lee, Sopogy’s Vice President of Marketing & Communications said, “GoingGreen’s Global 200 Award reflects the view of the international venture community. We are delighted with the award, and appreciate the continuing recognition over the years.”
About Sopogy Sopogy revolutionized solar thermal technology with MicroCSP. Developing modular collectors about one-third the size of a traditional concentrated solar power mirror, Sopogy cut the cost of solar thermal energy to a fraction of the cost. Proprietary storage units stabilize volatile energy production when cloudy and prolong production after sunset. Sopogy’s thermal energy is the fuel for stable, renewable power generation, air conditioning, and process heat. Please visit www.sopogy.com for more information.
Honolulu, August 31, 2011—Sopogy, the world’s leading developer of micro concentrated solar power (MicroCSP) technologies, is the Hawaii Business Innovation Showcase winner for the City and County of Honolulu. The award gives Sopogy a platform to showcase its technologies during the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders Week conference in November 2011.
Sopogy is one of five showcase winners that will be on display at numerous venues, including the Hawaii Convention Center, Ala Moana Center, and the CEO Summit at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel. Sopogy will also feature in Leader’s Week Hawaii TV in-room hotel program, an APEC Hawaii virtual online exhibit, a full page ad in the Star Advertiser, and a Hawaii Business circular to be distributed to APEC dignitaries and media.
Sopogy’s technologies are helping APEC economies achieve their clean energy goals and create local jobs. Sopogy has installations in place or in progress in the US, Mexico, Japan and Papua New Guinea, with agreements for further systems in China, Thailand, and the Philippines.
Darren T. Kimura, President and CEO of Sopogy said, “Given the quality and quantity of companies vying for this title, we are really honored to have been selected as the APEC Business Innovation winner for Honolulu.”
Sopogy’s patented MicroCSP technology uses mirrors and optics to intensify the heat from the sun creating thermal energy. Thermal energy is the fuel for efficient, renewable power generation, air conditioning, and process heat. Sopogy’s collectors are about one-third the size of a traditional solar parabolic trough systems and can generate 30% more energy than fixed-mounted PV panels. Sopogy’s proprietary thermal storage system stabilizes volatile production when cloudy and prolongs production after sunset.
Founded in Hawaii in 2002 and incorporated in 2006, Sopogy has deployed 18 MicroCSP systems around the world. For more information, please visit www.sopogy.com.
Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, or APEC, is a 21-member association of economies from the Asia-Pacific region working together to advance regional economic integration and prosperity. During 2009 APEC Summit in Singapore, President Barack Obama announced Honolulu, Hawaii as the host city for the 2011 Leaders Meeting. http://www.apec2011hawaii.com/what-apec
Pacific Business News – by Linda Chiem , Pacific Business News
Date: Tuesday, August 9, 2011, 2:19pm HST
Thirty-five Hawaii businesses have made the final cut for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation 2011 Hawaii Business Innovation Showcase — a business recognition program the Hawaii Host Committee launched to promote local businesses during the APEC Leaders’ Week meetings Honolulu will host in November.
Most of the businesses are at the forefront of Hawaii’s burgeoning technology and renewable energy sectors, which falls right in line with the U.S. goal of promoting “green growth” at the APEC meetings.
In May, the APEC Hawaii Host Committee, in partnership with the Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii and the four counties, established the showcase to provide what it described as an unprecedented opportunity for businesses registered in the state to showcase innovation in products and services to an international audience during the APEC 2011 Leaders’ Week, which takes place Nov. 7-13.
Of the 35 finalists, one winner from each county and one overall statewide winner will be selected Sept. 6.
The winners will get top billing and exposure at key venues and events during APEC Leaders’ Week — an enviable prize for any local business since so much of Hawaii’s success from hosting APEC rides on the exposure and publicity it generates for the entire state. For more information, click here.
Honolulu, HI—August 8, 2011— Sopogy, Inc., the world’s leading developer of micro concentrated solar power (MicroCSP) technologies, is pleased to announce the promotion of Rodney Lee to Vice President of Marketing & Communications. In this role he has responsibilities for the strategy, tactics and programs to create interest, demand and recognition for Sopogy’s solutions.
Rodney joined Sopogy in January 2011 as Marketing Manager. Prior to joining, he was a Director at Bedrock, a brand consultancy. Rodney’s clients included Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Kaiser Permanente, HMSA and Kamehameha Schools. He has a BS in Agriculture & Resource Economics from the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
About Sopogy and MicroCSP
Sopogy’s innovative MicroCSP technologies use mirrors and optics to intensify the heat energy from the sun creating thermal energy. Thermal energy is the fuel for efficient, renewable power generation, air conditioning, process heat, and desalination. Sopogy’s MicroCSP systems can generate 30% more energy than fixed-mounted photovoltaic panels, and unlike PV, MicroCSP collectors are easily recycled at end of life. Please visit www.sopogy.com for more information
Honolulu, July 21, 2011—Darren T. Kimura, President and CEO of Sopogy, Inc., will be inducted to Hawaii’s Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors today. Sopogy is the world’s leading developer of micro concentrated solar power (MicroCSP) technologies. MicroCSP uses mirrors and optics to intensify the heat energy from the sun creating thermal energy.
“We are most pleased that Darren T. Kimura has agreed to join the Board of Directors of The Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii,” said Jim Tollefson, President and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii. “Darren brings to the Board strong entrepreneurial and leadership skills, and critical knowledge in the important field of clean and alternative energy.”
“I am honored to join Hawaii’s Chamber of Commerce Board, and am excited that clean tech and alternative energy is high on the Board’s agenda,” said Mr. Kimura.
Darren T. Kimura established Sopogy, Inc. in 2006. Today, the company has eighteen installations around the US and the world, including Hawaii, California, Florida, Texas, Mexico, and Abu Dhabi. Additional installations are underway in Arizona and Papua New Guinea.
Deal Establishes Framework for Southeast Asian Expansion
Bangkok – July 14, 2011 – Sopogy, Inc., the world’s leading developer of micro concentrated solar power (MicroCSP) technologies, and MAI Development Co. Ltd., an established Thai conglomerate focusing on manufacturing, construction, real estate, energy and government services, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the development of a six-megawatt solar power plant in Bau Yai, Nakorn Ratchasima Province to provide electricity to the Provincial Electricity Authority of Thailand (PEA) in 2012.
In addition, Sopogy has granted MAI Development exclusive distribution rights for MicroCSP systems in Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.
MAI Development holds 45 power purchase licenses to supply 360 megawatts of electricity produced from solar energy to the PEA for an estimated value of over $500 Million USD.
“Sopogy’s proven solar technology and thermal energy storage system will help Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam achieve clean energy goals,” said Phatthanasret Chayutthanabun, President of M.A.I. Development. “In addition, Sopogy’s localized approach will create needed jobs. We appreciate being Sopogy’s exclusive partners in these markets.”
“We are delighted to be partnering with MAI Development,” said Darren T. Kimura, President and CEO of Sopogy. “MAI’s commitment to solar thermal energy, strong track record in Thailand, and excellent governmental relations within Southeast Asia make the company an ideal partner for Sopogy.”
Sopogy’s patented Micro Concentrated Solar Power (MicroCSP) technology uses mirrors and optics to intensify the heat energy from the sun creating thermal energy. Thermal energy is the fuel for efficient, renewable power generation, air conditioning, process heat, and desalination. Sopogy’s MicroCSP systems can generate 30% more energy than fixed-mounted photovoltaic panels, and unlike PV, MicroCSP collectors are easily recycled at end of life. Please visit www.sopogy.com for more information.
Honolulu, HI—July 2, 2011— Sopogy, Inc., the leader in MicroCSP™ solar technology development, manufacturing and installation, announced it has moved its Corporate headquarters to accommodate rapid growth.
The new offices are at the Airport Trade Center, near the Honolulu International Airport. Sopogy’s new address is 550 Paiea Street, Suite 236, Honolulu, HI 96819, USA. Sopogy plans to continue using its Waiwai Loop facilities for Research and Development.
Sopogy specializes in MicroCSP™ solar technologies that bring the economics of large solar energy systems to the industrial, commercial and utility sectors in a smaller, robust and more cost effective package. Sopogy’s goal is to create solar technologies that include sunlight concentration, sun tracking, thermal storage, and are easy to install thus simplifying the solar power business. Please visit www.sopogy.com for more information.
Honolulu, HI—May 23, 2011— Sopogy, Inc., the leader in MicroCSP solar technology development, manufacturing and installation, announced the promotion of Jim Norvelle to Vice President of Manufacturing and Research & Development.
James is a Silicon Valley senior business executive with extensive experience in all aspects of supply chain and operations management. He most recently served as Vice-President of Operations for Clear-Com Communications, a global provider in professional communication systems since 1968, where he was responsible for all aspects of operations and supply chain management. Prior to Clear-Com, James served 18 years at 3Com Corporation where he served as its Senior Director of Operations.
Sopogy specializes in MicroCSP solar technologies that bring the economics of large solar energy systems to the industrial, commercial and utility sectors in a smaller, robust and more cost effective package. Sopogy’s goal is to create solar solutions that improve the quality of life and simplify the solar power business. Please visit www.sopogy.com for more information.
Honolulu, HI—May 23, 2011— Sopogy, Inc., the leader in MicroCSP™ solar technology development, manufacturing and installation, announced the promotion of Jim Novelle to Vice President of Manufacturing and Research & Development.
James is a Silicon Valley senior business executive with extensive experience in all aspects of supply chain and operations management.He most recently served as Vice-President of Operations for Clear-Com Communications, a global provider in professional communication systems since 1968, where he was responsible for all aspects of operations and supply chain management.Prior to Clear-Com, James served 18 years at 3Com Corporation where he served as its Senior Director of Operations.
Sopogy specializes in MicroCSP™ solar technologies that bring the economics of large solar energy systems to the industrial, commercial and utility sectors in a smaller, robust and more cost effective package. Sopogy’s goal is to create solar solutions that improve the quality of life and simplify the solar power business.Please visit www.sopogy.com for more information.
Sopogy, Inc ., a leading developer of reliable and cost-effective micro concentrated solar power (MicroCSP) technologies, partnered with the City of San Jose and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) at the San Jose Green Vision Clean Energy Showcase – a knowledge hub for clean energy education and awareness. An installation of Sopogy’s SopoLite , a portable version of its proprietary parabolic trough collector, will be available through December 2011 to provide education, experience and information on MicroCSP technology.
Designed, engineered and proven in the US, Sopogy’s MicroCSP products address both power and thermal applications, including power generation, process heating and air conditioning. The MicroCSP solution consists of parallel rows of parabolic mirror collectors, optics and an integrated tracker to concentrate the sun’s energy on a centrally-located receiver tube and re-circulate heat transfer fluid within the system. The generated high-temperature heat is used in conjunction with a power block engine to provide a renewable source of power. The MicroCSP system is capable of producing power on-site at customers’ location for both roof and ground mounted installations. In addition, the system has been designed for fast installation and high efficiency through low-cost thermal storage solution to greatly increase value to customers.
“We are excited to take part in educating the community about the benefits of solar energy and MicroCSP technology,” says Darren T. Kimura, President & CEO of Sopogy. “By increasing awareness of solar technologies, the community can make informed decisions about clean energy options, as well as further its participation in San Jose`s Green Vision.”
The city of San Jose and the U.S. DOE introduced the showcase project to educate and allow community participation in the city’s green energy and green tech job goals. The new, interactive innovation center provides the public firsthand experience with installations of cutting-edge clean energy technologies. The showcase will advance key goals of San Jose`s Green Vision as it looks to educate consumers about clean energy solutions, as well as provide vital training and education for San Jose`s students.
No state in the nation is as dependent on oil as Hawaii.
Oil fuels 90 percent of its power grid, and all that fuel has to be shipped in. Governor Neil Abercrombie estimates oil costs the state of 1.3 million people $7 billion a year.
So Hawaii has been investing heavily in alternative sources of power, with a goal of getting 30 percent of all power from alternative sources by 2030, compared to about 10 percent now. Going green is a big theme here.
But in Hawaii, NIMBY (not in my backyard) takes on a whole new meaning. When land is limited, the entire state is your backyard. Winning over the locals to the idea of wind farms and solar arrays in paradise takes patience and flexibility.
“I think it’s a great step forward,” says Carol Feinga, who helps head a community association in the town of Laie, on Oahu’s north shore. She’s talking about a new wind farm in nearby Kahuku built by First Wind, which will provide enough power to serve 7,700 homes. “For us to succeed and survive there are opportunities available for renewable resources,” she says in the shadow of the massive turbines.
But, so far, green power isn’t any cheaper, even with federal subsidies. “Right now we’re probably a little bit more expensive (than traditional electricity), but over a relatively short period of time, we’re going to be competitive,” says First Wind’s Chief Development Officer Kurt Adams.
His firm was able to build the new wind farm with a government loan, and Adams says that for the first time, a plant will combine turbines with a special battery system to smooth out volatility to the electrical grid caused by changes in wind velocity. Both the turbines and the batteries used here are built by American companies.
The Kahuku wind farm sits just out of view of the Turtle Bay Resort, but you can’t miss it if you’re driving on the main road. First Wind also operates a larger wind farm on Maui, visible on the mountainside while driving from the airport to Lahaina.
The company would also like to build on Molokai as part of a plan to capture wind on outer islands and bring that power underwater to Honolulu, where it’s most needed. But locals on Molokai have not agreed on what land First Wind can use. David Murdock’s Castle & Cooke is running into similar problems on Lanai, where locals are pushing back against a wind farm that some feel will do more harm than good.
“Hawaiians have a very strong sense of their place,” says Kurt Adams of First Wind. “So we like to reach out to the community and spend a lot of time working with the community before we break ground.”
That’s something that Darren T. Kimura, CEO of Sopogy, already knows. His company is based in Hawaii, developing technology for concentrated solar power plants around the world, including one on the Big Island.
“The islands are separated, so every single island has its own grid,” he says, explaining the challenge of integrating renewable energy, with its intermittent nature, such as clouds over the sun. “Our technology incorporates storage, where we are able to basically buffer the effects of clouds.” Kimura says that with concentrated solar, a plant can store power to be used after the sun sets, “way up to maybe even midnight.”
He says solar power companies haven’t experienced the same pushback from locals that the wind energy industry has seen. Still, he’s heard complaints, like feedback on Sopogy’s solar collector called the SopoNova . “We heard from the locals here, ‘Wow, SopoNova’s really ugly’—and it did look ugly. We redesigned it, we designed the aesthetics of it to match the ground color for example, and we made it blend in with local topology.”
Such efforts pay off. Green energy has won over converts. “We lack sustainability,” says resident John Primacio of Kahuku, who’s become a fan of the wind farm. He was impressed that First Wind actually bought the land for the facility rather than leasing it.
“We interpret that to mean they’re going to stay here,” says Primacio. “They’re going to develop and continue providing wind energy. It can only help the endeavor to cut the state from buying oil.”
From its modest headquarters in an industrial area near Honolulu Airport, homegrown high-tech company Sopogy Inc. is taking on some of the world’s biggest names in renewable energy.
Launched in 2002 by local entrepreneur Darren Kimura, Sopogy has leveraged its expertise in the field of concentrated solar power to win contracts on the mainland and across the globe. Among its competitors are Siemens AG, a German conglomerate with a market capitalization of $116 billion, and Spain’s Abengoa SA, another multibillion-dollar firm.
Sopogy, which pioneered the development of “MicroCSP” technology, recently announced its biggest deal to date: the installation of 200 megawatts of generating capacity in China.
“Sopogy is a perfect example of a tech company that has hit a home run in Hawaii,” said Bill Spencer, president of the Hawaii Venture Capital Association. “Darren is a testament to how a technology company in Hawaii can seek out a global market and deliver. There are no boundaries if it is done properly.”
Sopogy’s patented system is a variation on an older solar energy technology first tested 30 years ago in the Mojave Desert. The Department of Energy oversaw the project near Barstow, Calif., that featured huge mirrored troughs used to concentrate solar energy and create steam that turned a turbine to generate electricity.
Kimura and his team took the technology, scaled down the troughs to one-fourth of the size and made other improvements that resulted in the systems being more mobile and less costly. Since completing research and development in 2005 Sopogy has installed six MicroCSP systems and has at least six more in the development stage. Project locations include Abu Dhabi, Mexico and Papua New Guinea.
The company has been growing at about 300 percent a year since 2005, but Kimura said he expects that to slow to a mere 60 percent to 80 percent annually in the coming years.
The 37-year-old Kimura, who launched his first company while a student at the University of Hawaii, has assembled an impressive management team that includes former Kamehameha Schools Vice President Michael Loo as chief financial officer.
Kimura remains chairman of the board of Energy Industries, an energy-efficiency consulting firm he launched in 2004 that now has offices across the western U.S., Hawaii, Guam and Japan.
“I can still say that all my companies are based here because that’s fundamental to what I do,” Kimura said. “I’m trying to develop an energy industry here that we can use to create critical mass.”
Kimura’s commitment to Hawaii, both through his business ventures and community outreach, will help pave the way for future local entrepreneurs looking to get ventures off the ground here, said Yuka Nagashima, president of the Hawaii Technology Development Corp.
“He’s very community oriented. He’s passing along his experience, and the more successful companies that Hawaii produces, the easier it will be for the rest of us,” Nagashima said.
“It helps counter the image of Hawaii as only a tourist destination.”
Sopogy was one of several Hawaii startups that benefited from a now-defunct state program known as Act 221 that provided tax breaks to investors who put money into local tech companies.
“It made people more willing to invest in Hawaii companies. That’s why I supported 221,” Spencer said. “We needed a way to get people to invest in Hawaii. At the same time, we have to have confidence in our entrepreneurs. We just needed to prime the pump,” he said.
Sopogy has 42 patents in various stages on its technology, Kimura said. One of the breakthroughs the company was able to achieve through its R&D was a way to use the heat from its solar collectors to turn a turbine without using steam. Standard CSP systems, as well as many oil-fired generators, use steam to turn turbines. But using steam requires a constant supply of fresh water. In addition, steam corrodes turbine blades, requiring frequent maintenance.
Sopogy’s system instead uses a thermodynamic cycle that achieves the same results without using steam, Kimura said. Parabolic mirrors made of polished aluminum are used to collect sunlight and focus it on a tube carrying a heat-transfer fluid, usually mineral oil. The mineral oil is heated to about 500 degrees Fahrenheit and pumped through an evaporator where the heat is used to vaporize a liquid refrigerant. The vapors turn a turbine that generates electricity. The mineral oil is then sent back to the mirrors to be reheated. The vaporized refrigerant is cooled and returned to a liquid state to be used again.
Sopogy also uses its MicroCSP technology to power air-conditioning systems using an absorption cooling process. The system works in much the same as a natural gas air-conditioning system.
In both systems, water is heated to temperatures just cooler than 200 degrees and collected in a storage tank. The water then goes through an absorption chiller that cools the cold water used in the building’s fan units.
The results are in and finalists have been chosen for the top North American renewable energy leaders, innovations and projects of the year. Readers’ Choice voting opens today!
Readers were asked to submit nominations for excellent renewable energy projects, innovations and leaders. In all, more than 560 nominations were received for awards that will be given in 11 categories.
Network editors sorted through the nominations, rated them, and narrowed down the list of finalists. The eleven categories include: Project of the Year for solar, wind, biomass, geothermal and hydro; Innovation awards for technology, policy/outreach and finance/business; and Leadership awards for technology, policy/outreach and finance/business.
Leadership in Technology
Riggs Eckelberry, President and CEO of OriginOil
James G. P. Dehlsen, Former Chairman, Clipper Wind, now CEO of Ecomerit Technologies
Randy Gee, Chief Technology Officer, SkyFuel
Dr. Jennifer Holmgren, CEO, LanzaTech
Darren T. Kimura, Founder and CEO, Sopogy
Roch Duce, ERDC-CERL Energy Branch Senior Researcher (US Army Corp of Engineers)
Hawaii may be a secluded island paradise – but its remoteness isn’t always an asset. The state has to import nearly all of its fuel from thousands of miles away, so its residents and businesses pay the nation’s highest energy costs.
It’s for that reason that Hawaii has what may be the nation’s most aggressive renewable-energy target. At present, 90 percent of the state’s energy is produced by fossil fuels – but by 2030, state officials hope, 70 percent will come from clean sources. (Renewables are expected to represent 40 percent of Hawaii’s 2030 energy mix, while efficiency improvements will provide the other 30 percent).
As the state looks to go green, solar installations will likely become much more common – already, solar is taking hold as residents and companies look to slash energy spending and reduce their fossil-fuel dependence.
For example, solar installer RevoluSun was recently named Hawaii’s best new small business by Hawaii Business magazine. RevoluSun received the award on January 27 – and company principal Mark Duda said its success has come as a result of solar power’s booming popularity.
“We enable [customers] to confidently do something they wanted to do anyway,” Duda told Hawaii Business.
Commercial-scale installations are cropping up in Hawaii, as well. In mid-January, engineering company Pratt & Whitney – best-known for building jet engines – announced that it would be providing organic Rankine cycle systems in a 5.5-megawatt solar array designed by solar firm Sopogy.
ORC systems trap and concentrate sunlight in solar collectors. The sunlight then heats a fluid, which expands and spins a turbine to produce electricity. The technology’s main advantage is its small size: Unlike utility-scale solar technology like the kind being adopted in California and Nevada, ORC systems can be built on small plots.
Pratt & Whitney’s systems will be installed in the fourth quarter of the year.
In fact, new solar installations can’t come on line fast enough in the Aloha State. The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported January 31 that public schools across Hawaii are in desperate need of air-conditioning systems; only a handful of schools in the state have A/C at present.
Not only is climate-control technology expensive, the newspaper said – in many cases, there simply isn’t enough electricity available to make new systems feasible.
Solar power could help – indeed, it’s likely to have an increasingly larger role in Hawaii’s energy mix in the years to come.
Ken Shimada named Director of Energy Economics at Sopogy, Inc.
Honolulu, HI—January 25, 2011— Sopogy, Inc., the leader in MicroCSP solar technology development, manufacturing and installation, announced the appointment of Ken Shimada as Director of Energy Economics. Ken will oversee the project finance, structuring and analysis for Sopogy.
Prior to joining Sopogy, Ken was a Project Manager at Hoku Materials, Inc. a subsidiary of Hoku Corporation where he was involved in the construction of the company’s polysilicon production facility in Pocatello, Idaho. He also served as a Project Manager at Hoku Corporation (NASDAQ: HOKU formerly Hoku Scientific, Inc.) where he served in a cross functional role.
Ken earned a Bachelor of Business Administration in Finance from the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
Sopogy specializes in MicroCSP™ solar technologies that bring the economics of large solar energy systems to the industrial, commercial and utility sectors in a smaller, robust and more cost effective package. Sopogy’s goal is to create solar solutions that improve the quality of life and simplify the solar power business. Please visit www.sopogy.com for more information.
This is part of a series on distributed renewable energy posted to Renewable Energy World. It originally appeared on Energy Self-Reliant States, a resource of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance’s New Rules Project.
When discussing centralized v. decentralized solar power, there’s an inevitable comparison between solar thermal electric power and solar photovoltaic (PV). But the fact is that solar thermal power – or concentrating solar power (CSP) – can also be done in a distributed fashion.
In fact, of the 21 operational CSP plants in the world, 18 are smaller than 80 megawatts (MW). And among operational plants with publicly available capital costs, there’s no clear pattern of lower costs per Watt installed for larger projects.
The common element in thermal concentrating solar power (CSP) is that rather than directly converting sunlight to electricity (solar PV), they concentrate sunlight with mirrors to heat a fluid, and that heat is converted to useful energy. There are a variety of designs for CSP plants, including parabolic troughs, towers, Stirling dish engines, and Fresnel lenses. Because three of the four designs (excluding the Stirling dish) generate electricity from steam turbines, the assumption is that bigger is better, capturing more economies of scale.
But the evidence suggests that most economies of scale are captured at a relatively small size. The adjacent chart explores the cost of CSP plants by size, differentiating plants with storage or natural gas backups from those that are solely solar powered. Rather than seeing declining costs for scale, we see costs level or increasing.
The poor returns for scale may have to do with the limited economies of scale in heat engines (the tools for converting heat to electricity). The following chart illustrates the cost functions of several heat engines (including traditional steam turbines, screw motors, Organic Rankine Cycle engines, and piston motors).
As the chart shows, the cost of heat engines per kilowatt (kW) of capacity drops rapidly as size increases up to 1 megawatt (MW). But beyond that, the economies of scale are much smaller. For example, there’s only a 100 euro drop in the cost per kW for a steam turbine when increased in size from 2 to 3 MW. If the turbine represented the entire project cost, the savings from the larger turbine might equate to a 1 cent per kWh drop in the price of electricity from the project over its entire lifetime. In reality, the turbine is less than 20% of project costs and the savings would be much smaller.
In other words, economies of scale are small for CSP projects, even at relatively small sizes.
Perhaps more interesting than the economies of scale of the heat engines is the difference between traditional steam turbines and Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC) turbines. ORC turbines can operate efficiently at lower temperatures, allowing for a smaller field of solar collectors and for CSP plants to populate areas with lower direct solar irradiance. The potential to serve a wider geographic area was noted in a recent interview with the CEO of Sopogy, a producer of “microCSP” (1-20 MW power plants) using ORC turbines:
The Sopogy system doesn’t need high DNI (Direct Normal Irradiance)…according to Kimura. [Traditional CSP] needs 7 plus DNI but Sopogy can work at 5 DNI. That means Sopogy can and is installing systems in the Pacific Northwest, Idaho, the Middle East, Spain and Australia.
In other words, smaller-scale CSP projects may be able to capture most economies of scale and distribute the use of concentrating solar power to areas previously thought uneconomic for concentrating solar. The smaller scale may also prove advantageous because CSP can provide high efficiency heat for industrial use as well as electricity, reaching significantly higher capacity factors (as with traditional combined-heat-and-power facilities).
Overall, the lesson with CSP seems similar to that of solar PV and wind. Most economies of scale are captured at smaller sizes, allowing projects to integrate more easily into existing grid infrastructure.
Honolulu, Hawaii – December 18, 2010 – Sopogy, Inc., a leading developer of reliable and cost-effective micro concentrated solar power (MicroCSP) technologies, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Yu Hao Long (YHL) Corporation, the developer of a patented Stirling energy generator for the installation of a 200MW concentrating solar plant for the China National Utility. The MOU also formalized a goal to demonstrate the combined system in Hawaii during the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) which will be hosted in Honolulu.
“This MOU signing brings a spotlight to Hawaii’s developing technology industry. I hope this collaboration is the first of many to come between Hawaii’s companies and the global economies we touch,” said Senator Carol Fukunaga, Chairperson of the Senate Economic and Technology committee.
“Sopogy’s proprietary concentrating solar platform produces high-temperature heat which is a robust energy source for clean power generation,” said Darren T. Kimura, President and CEO of Sopogy. “The heat we produce is captured in thermal energy storage tanks and helps to produce firm and reliable energy during the day into the evening peak. This makes for a perfect complement with a Stirling generator and the China energy grid.”
Kimura and YHL’s Dr. Francis Fung collaborated for over a year to identify and develop a plan for the mass production of YHL’s low temperature, hybrid Stirling engines which use ready-made auto components for utility scale power generation.
“The joint collaboration will create jobs and increase the export market for both China and America,” said Dr. Fung. “It is a natural pooling of resources of two great nations to work unanimously toward human and environmental harmony.”
“Sopogy’s work is a great example of Hawaii’s global market position as the ideal location for research and development of clean technologies. This agreement is a great step forward,” said Ted Peck, Energy Administrator for the State of Hawaii.
Most recently, the 5-megawatt Kalaeloa Solar One broke ground on the island of Oahu which will feature Sopogy’s MicroCSP technologies.
Designed, engineered and proven in the US, MicroCSP technology consists of parallel rows of proprietary parabolic mirror collectors, optics and an integrated tracker to concentrate the sun’s energy on a centrally-located receiver tube and re-circulate heat transfer fluid within the system. The generated high-temperature heat will be used in conjunction with the hybrid Stirling engine to provide a renewable source of power.
Sopogy, Inc. engages in the development, design, manufacturing and marketing of MicroCSP technologies – a comprehensive, low temperature, low cost approach to solar thermal. MicroCSP brings the economics of large Concentrating Solar Power systems to the industrial, commercial and utility sectors in a more manageable, durable and faster to deploy kit. Sopogy’s technologies are designed for the 2-50MW power class, 100-1,000 ton solar thermal air conditioning size and unlimited quantities of industrial process heat. The company’s two megawatt solar thermal field has been operational in Kona, Hawaii, U.S.A. since March 2009. It demonstrates the effectiveness and reliability of MicroCSP with Sopogy’s proprietary thermal energy storage solution. Sopogy’s award winning SopoNova solar collector was named New Product of the Year by the National Society of Professional Engineers and received Plant Engineering Product of the Year. The company was founded in 2002 and is based in Honolulu, HI, U.S.A. Please visit www.sopogy.com for more information.
EAST HARTFORD, Conn., Jan. 17, 2011 – Pratt & Whitney Power Systems signed a contract with Sopogy, Inc., of Hawaii for two Turboden Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC) systems. These two units will operate in conjunction with solar collectors that concentrate the sun’s energy to create heat, which is captured by the ORC units to generate electricity. Pratt & Whitney is a United Technologies Corp. (NYSE:UTX) company.
“Combining our Organic Rankine Cycle unit with Sopogy’s solar collectors is a powerful step in energy efficiency,” says Chuck Levey, vice president of sales and marketing, Pratt & Whitney Power Systems. “This duo is an attractive alternative to photovoltaic cells and solar steam plants.”
For this 5.5 MW application in Hawaii, the two Turboden TD 27 HR Organic Rankine Cycle systems will take heat energy from Sopogy’s MicroCSP solar collectors into a receiver tube that will heat up a transfer fluid to create the high-temperature thermal resource. The heated fluid then becomes the fuel to power the ORC units. This is the first application of the PWPS’s ORC systems in this solar-thermal application. Installation is expected to begin during the fourth quarter of 2011.
With Turboden, Pratt & Whitney Power Systems offers a spectrum of ORC products ranging in output power from about 280 kW to about 10 MW of renewable power. The ORC power system employs a closed-cycle process that uses relatively low- to moderate-temperature heat resources to generate electricity. These ORC systems are driven by a simple evaporation process and are entirely enclosed, which means they produce virtually no emissions.
PWPS is also an industry leader in providing solutions to the power generation market through its industrial gas turbines and aftermarket services. Its gas turbines serve as mobile, easily-assembled and highly-efficient power generation systems. These systems can deliver as much as 60 MW of safe electric power. PWPS has installed more than 2,000 industrial gas turbines in more than 50 countries worldwide.
Pratt & Whitney is a world leader in the design, manufacture and service of aircraft engines, space propulsion systems and industrial gas turbines. United Technologies, based in Hartford, Conn., is a diversified company providing high technology products and services to the global aerospace and commercial building industries.
Honolulu, Hawaii – November 17, 2010 – Sopogy®, Inc., a leader in micro concentrated solar power (MicroCSP®) technology, announced that it has received the Patriot Award presented by the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), a Department of Defense organization.
During a ceremony with employees, Sopogy was recognized for their support to military reserve employees in recognition of extraordinary support and commitment to its employees serving in the National Guard and Reserve.
“We are honored to receive this recognition,” said Darren Kimura, President and CEO of Sopogy. “It is truly a privilege to support our military employees and we are especially proud to count them among our associates. We salute each member of the National Guard and Reserve for their courage, respect and loyalty in serving our country.”
Sopogy, Inc. engages in the development, design, manufacturing and marketing of MicroCSP technologies – a comprehensive, low temperature, low cost approach to solar thermal. MicroCSP technology brings the economics of large Concentrating Solar Power systems to the industrial, commercial and utility sectors in a more manageable, durable and faster to deploy kit. The technology is designed for the 2-50MW power class, 100-1,000 ton solar thermal air conditioning size and unlimited quantities of industrial process heat. Sopogy’s two megawatt solar thermal field has been operational in Kona, Hawaii, U.S.A. since March 2009 and demonstrates the effectiveness and reliability of MicroCSP with Sopogy’s proprietary thermal energy storage solution. Sopogy’s award winning SopoNova solar collector was named New Product of the Year by the National Society of Professional Engineers and received Plant Engineering Product of the Year. The company was founded in 2002 and is based in Honolulu, HI, U.S.A. Please visit www.sopogy.com for more information.
Honolulu, Hawaii – October 27, 2010 – Sopogy, Inc., a leader in micro concentrating solar power (MicroCSP™) technology, will supply its proprietary solar thermal collectors for a five-megawatt MicroCSP plant, which broke ground today on Kalaeloa, Oahu– marking the largest CSP project for Hawaii.
The Kalaeloa Solar One project is a partnership between the State of Hawaii, Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL) and Keahole Solar Power (KSP) for land in Kalaeloa to establish a home base for the clean energy project. The State of Hawaii has also recently announced a Feed-In Tariff to enable renewable energy projects.
According to the chairman of the Hawaiian Homes Commission Kaulana Park, the ground blessing marks a tremendous step forward in implementing the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative to source 70% of its energy consumption from renewable sources by 2030. The project will supply clean energy for Hawaii as well as provide DHHL with rent monies which will in turn be used to build homes and fund educational programs for native Hawaiians.
“I’m excited about the future and know this is just the first of many more projects here in Hawaii,” said Governor Linda Lingle. “Five megawatts is a significant amount into our grid system and I look forward to it coming online and showing that Hawaii is in fact a renewable energy leader in the region and in the world. We know the things we learn and achieve can be used all over the world to allow others to achieve that same kind of energy security and independence, especially other island communities, island nations and island states.”
Kalaeloa will become a model for achievement to surrounding communities and the islands of Hawaii. Adopted in March 2006, the Kalaeloa Master Plan includes allotment of three million square footage of light industrial, commercial, retail and office space – set to create an estimated 7,000 jobs and approximately 6,350 residential units – with opportunities for high-tech and alternative energy development.
“Sopogy developed a fast and simple template solution which meets our internal rate of return goals,” said Edward Lui, member of the board of directors at KSP. “The MicroCSP package includes the concentrating solar collectors and thermal storage which is not only delivered quickly, but also assembled on-site at a very cost-effective price.”
Key advantages of MicroCSP technology include high efficiencies, low cost and robust applications which can be highly effective on buildings or ground installations to provide electricity, heat and cooling. The storage and backup capabilities of CSP plants offer significant benefits for the grid by providing a buffer for short-term variations such as during cloudy conditions or at night.
“Another key benefit is Sopogy’s manufacturing process and use of conventional materials,” says Darren T. Kimura President and CEO of Sopogy. “Not only can our modules be produced locally, but our collectors can also be manufactured anywhere in the world. The technology is designed to be manufactured in a piece fashion, flat packed at the factory in a container and transported or shipped directly to the project site.”
Sopogy’s MicroCSP system uses solar thermal technology consisting of parallel rows of proprietary parabolic mirror collectors, optics and an integrated tracker to concentrate the sun’s energy on a centrally-located receiver tube and re-circulate heat transfer fluid within the system. By producing thermal energy, the generated heat will then be used in conjunction with a power block engine to provide a renewable source of power.
Sopogy, Inc. engages in the development, design, manufacturing and marketing of MicroCSP technologies – a comprehensive, low temperature, low cost approach to solar thermal. MicroCSP brings the economics of large Concentrating Solar Power systems to the industrial, commercial and utility sectors in a more manageable, durable and faster to deploy kit. Sopogy’s technologies are designed for the 2-50MW power class, 100-1,000 ton solar thermal air conditioning size and unlimited quantities of industrial process heat. The company’s two megawatt solar thermal field has been operational in Kona, Hawaii, U.S.A. since March 2009. It demonstrates the effectiveness and reliability of MicroCSP with Sopogy’s proprietary thermal energy storage solution. Sopogy’s award winning SopoNova solar collector was named New Product of the Year by the National Society of Professional Engineers and received Plant Engineering Product of the Year. The company was founded in 2002 and is based in Honolulu, HI, U.S.A. Please visit www.sopogy.com for more information. Sopogy MicroCSP – the Technology behind Energy.