Glass free solar collectors power SkyFuel's future

October 10 2008 / by Garry Golden
Category: Environment   Year: 2012   Rating: 1

Energy from the sun can be transformed into electricity directly from light (via photovoltaics), or by capturing its heat (thermal) energy use with traditional turbines. We recently featured five videos explaining ‘thin film solar photovoltaics’- and Konarka’s plans for the sector’s first 1 Gigawatt scale production plant. But while thin film solar could be big for distributed power systems, it is not ideal for large scale centralized production that feeds our national electricity grids.

When it comes to bringing solar energy to our electricity grids, thermal solar or concentrating solar power (CSP) appears to have an early lead in utility scale production.

SkyFuels unveils low cost solar utility power generation
Now SkyFuels, Inc, an emerging start up has unveiled its SkyTrough™ system as ‘the highest performance,lowest cost utility-scale solar power system of any kind for generating electricity.’

Skyfuels knows that the way forward with utility scale CSP solutions is reducing cost without sacrificing performance. And the company believes that its all-aluminum, glass free light collection modules could change the economics of thermal based solar systems.

The company claims a 35% cost savings against comparable systems because its modules use glass-free mirrors that enable compact transportation and rapid field assembly, and new more efficient drive & control systems.

The SkyTrough™ is 375 feet long, twenty feet tall, and features the largest parabolic trough modules ever built. It was developed with the support of the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory and with a grant from New Mexico Governor Bill Richardon’s Energy Innovation Fund for SkyFuel’s research partnership with the University of New Mexico.

ReflectTech’s Secret Sauce – silvered polymer films
The SkyTrough’s cost-performance balance is feasible with the use of ReflecTech® Mirror Film: a low-cost, highly reflective and shatterproof silvered-polymer film, jointly designed by SkyFuel CTO, Randy Gee, and scientists at NREL to replace the expensive, heavy and fragile curved-glass mirrors, which are still used in all other parabolic trough designs used for electric power generation.

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