Cost efficiency is a general maxim that is strictly followed in the concentrated solar energy universe. Along these lines, an American startup could turn the market around with an innovative solar collector design in which the heliostats no longer have their own motor and subjection to share it. The change is substantial because it achieves a 33% reduction in the cost of the equipment, from $120 on average per square meter, to $80.
Although the price of the proposed design is still $5 per square meter above the target, the achievement is significant. Skysun, an Ohio startup that has the support of Sandia National Laboratories and funding from the United States Department of Energy (DOE) , has embarked on achieving this.
The essence of the project is simple and the result reflects it: contain the costs of concentrating solar energy with a new collector. Compared to the traditional ones, in which the mirrors that reflect heat and concentrate it towards the receivers are equipped, each one of them, with its own base and motor; in this case, the concept of unity is passed to that of the whole.
Thus, Skysun groups the mirrors so that they share the mooring system and the motor. Just when it comes to installation costs, the change has the potential to cut them in no more and no less than half. According to the US Department of Energy, no other attempt had achieved such a result and, in fact, had not become either cost competitive or viable.
To get to this point, the company has had to take care that the system is affordable but, also, obviously, comparable to those that already exist in terms of performance. And, in principle, it has succeeded. The results obtained with a laboratory prototype in which the positioning was taken care of to minimize the shadows between mirrors are within the market standards.
However, work continues with this collector so that, as expected, it can advance towards a significant reduction in the costs of concentrating solar energy. Thus, from Skysun they continue to advance to fine-tune their technology and launch it on the market. To do this, the firm is currently looking for partners to collaborate with this objective.