Sopogy’s Design - Lower Cost Concentrated Solar Power?
Concentrated solar power (CSP) can generate enormous amounts of power in the range of 100 megawatts or more. That level of concentrated solar power also generates a high level of heat - usually around 800 degrees F - that, in turn, requires costly systems of vacuum tubes and deflection mirrors. While this might be practicable for large commercial or municipal concentrated solar power collector installations, it might not be the best solution for a smaller-scale distribution grid or individual building HVAC requirements. However, Sopogy’s new smaller-scale concentrated solar power system might be a realistic option.
The Sopogy concentrated solar power system design still uses parabolic troughs, but they are smaller and require less expensive heat-handling support systems because they operate at a significantly lower temperature - 500 degrees F. This lower operating temperature is possible through the use of an organic rankine cycle (ORC) like that used at geothermal plants. The ability to store thermal energy to avoid PV intermittency is also a positive feature of the Sopogy concentrated solar power design.
With an average output of 5 megawatts to 20 megawatts, Sopogy’s Micro CSP is a reasonable size for flat-roof installations in a city. Small turbines, air conditioning, or even evaporative desalination systems could be powered by the Micro CSP while also showing a cost savings over standard concentrated solar power designs.