A new solar collector is starting a trend when it comes to concentrating solar power (CSP) technology. For the first time ever, “ganged heliostats” could be a viable option for new CSP systems.

Skysun, a startup out of Bay Village, Ohio, developed the new design that could help cut the cost of a CSP system by more than 30%.

Ganged Heliostat Technology

CSP technologies use mirrors to reflect and concentrate sunlight onto receivers that collect solar energy and convert it to heat. The mirrors, also known as heliostats, typically require their own base, foundation, and motor.

Skysun’s solar collector groups together heliostats through shared motors and support structures, which has the potential to cut the total installed cost of CSP systems in half. While other ganged heliostat concepts have previously been proposed, none of them have shown to be cost competitive or viable—until now.

Ganged heliostat prototype installed at Sandia National Laboratories' National Solar Thermal Test Facility.

SkySun partnered with Sandia National Laboratories through a $275,000 Small Business Vouchers project funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) SunShot Initiative. Sandia reported that Skysun’s ganged heliostats can achieve an average price point around $80/m2. That’s 33% lower than the lowest average cost for today’s conventional heliostats ($120/m2) and close to the SunShot Initiative’s goal of lowering the cost of solar collectors to $75/m2.

Path to Market Adoption

Skysun’s biggest barrier was showing that the technology is not just comparable to current heliostats in terms of performance, but more affordable. They used a grant from Innovation Fund America to build their first lab-scale prototype, then worked with Sandia to model and optimize the system. Alongside Sandia, Skysun designed custom codes for mirror positioning to reduce shading from other mirrors within the system, making its peak efficiency comparable to those deployed today. So far, modeling on Skysun’s solar collectors show that its mirrors achieve CSP industry accuracy standards with winds up to 15-20 miles per hour.

Skysun founder Jim Clair believes he will be able to leverage the outcomes from Skysun’s collaboration with Sandia in his search for a strategic partnership to prepare this technology for market adoption. Describing Sandia as “the mecca for CSP,” Clair said Sandia’s support in demonstrating the ganged heliostat’s stability, performance, and cost will be instrumental in showing the technology’s viability to potential partners.

Learn more about the SunShot Initiative and Tech-to-Market program within DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. 

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Learn more about Tech-to-Market’s Small Business Vouchers program, which opens the national labs to qualified small businesses by making the contracting process simple, lab practices transparent, and access to the labs' unique facilities practical. 

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Solar energy is a major renewable energy source with the potential to meet several challenges we face as humankind. This power source is increasing in popularity because of its versatility and many benefits to people and the environment. Climate change has led to real crisis, with increase in flooding and hurricanes due to disturbed weather patterns. High carbon dioxide content in the atmosphere is making oceans acidic and killing marine life. Higher temperatures lead to melting of polar ice caps, reducing habitats for wildlife and increasing sea level. Irregular rainfall or increasing droughts affect agriculture and livelihoods of the weaker sections of society all around the world.

Solar power can restrict climate change. With reduced carbon footprint, solar is a safe alternative that can replace the burning of fossil fuels for generation of electricity that produce air, water, and land pollution.

Solar energy, in many different forms, is the source of nearly all energy on the earth, and humankind has harnessed the sun’s energy in several ways.
Photovoltaics (often abbreviated as PV) are simple devices that provide us with an elegant method of harnessing the sun’s energy. PV devices (solar cells) can directly convert the incident solar radiation into electricity. They produce no noise, produce no pollution, and do not include moving parts. Hence, they are robust, reliable and long lasting.

In 1960s, research in photovoltaics received its boost from the requirement in the space industry. Satellites required a power supply for satellite applications, separate from grid power. . Silicon solar cells back then were far too expensive, and the perceived need for an electricity generation method was still unseen. However, solar PV cells were an interesting scientific variation to the rapidly expanding silicon transistor development with several potentially specialized niche markets.
In the 1980s, research into silicon solar cells paid off as solar cells began to increase their efficiency. In less than half a decade, silicon solar cells achieved the milestone of 20% efficiency.

Working of Solar Cells

The primary component of a solar cell is silicon. Silicon is a semiconductor material at its core, and actually a very poor conductor of electricity. In 1839, Edmund Becquerel discovered that electrical energy could be harnessed from the sun during certain electrochemical configurations. Silicon is suitably doped with certain impurities to employ a solar photovoltaic (PV) cell to capture energy from the sun and convert it into electricity.

In the operation of solar cells, the principle is that when a photon reaches a semiconductor, it ejects an electron leading to the creation of two conductors: the free electron and the electron hole. When the PN junction is exposed to light, photons with energy greater than the bandgap of silicon cells are absorbed, causing the emergence of electron-hole pairs. These carriers are separated under the influence of electric fields within the junction, creating a current that is proportional to the incidence of solar irradiation.

Electricity is created without noise, in a clean way and without any harmful by-products.

An array of solar cells converts solar energy into a usable amount of direct current (DC) electricity. Solar cells are connected in series increase the output voltage. Series connected cells form what is called as solar PV modules.

A PV module consists of a number of interconnected solar cells (typically 60 or 72 connected in series) encapsulated into a single, long-lasting, stable unit. Encapsulation is done to protect the solar cells from mechanical damage and for the module to sustain in harsh environment.

Balance of System (BOS)

A Solar PV Balance-of-System (BOS) refers to the components and equipment that convert DC energy produced by solar panels to usable AC electricity, through the conversion system. BOS is an arrangement of several components, such as:

  • solar panels to absorb and convert sunlight into electricity
  • inverter to change the electric current from DC to AC
  • integrated battery solution for storage (if necessary)
  • mounting, cabling, switches, enclosures, fuses, ground fault detectors and other electrical accessories to set up a working system.

Through the balance-of-system components, we can control system cost, increase efficiency at multiple stages, and modernize the entire solar PV system.

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Kurz nachdem die Fußball Weltmeisterschaft startet, öffnen sich in München am 20. Juni die Tore zur Intersolar Europe 2018. Die weltweite Leitmesse der Solarindustrie blickt auf eine Energiewelt im Umbruch: Dezentraler, digitaler und immer mehr Solarstrom. Was braucht die Energiewelt der Zukunft? Wie sehen die Lösungen für eine Vernetzung der unterschiedlichen Energiesektoren aus? Und welche neuen Produkte überzeugen auf dem Markt? Antworten findet ihr unter anderem auf dem SMA Stand in München in Halle 3, Stand B3.210.

Gewerbliche Solaranlagen: Wärme, Strom, Mobilität und Speicher miteinander vernetzen

ennexOS: Der Energiemanager Data Manager M auf Basis der Energiemanagement-Plattform ennexOS ermöglicht jetzt zusammen mit dem neuen Sunny Design Pro und dem Sunny Portal powered by ennexOS neue Möglichkeiten für Betriebe, die eigenen Solarstrom erzeugen und ihren Energieverbrauch optimieren wollen. Zum ersten Mal können Anlagenplaner gewerbliche Anlagen dort jetzt über alle Sektoren hinweg planen, den Betrieb simulieren und die Gesamtkosten für das System berechnen. Dabei werden elektrische Stromerzeuger und –verbraucher, Batteriespeicher und thermische Komponenten wie Heizung und Wärmepumpen berücksichtigt. Die Energiemanagement-Plattform ennexOS ist übrigens für den Smarter E Award nominiert. Also: Daumen drücken!

Nominiert für den Smarter E Award: Der Data Manager M powered by ennexOS.

Nominiert für den Smarter E Award: Der Data Manager M powered by ennexOS.

SMA Sunny Tripower 3.0/4.0/5.0/6.0

SMA Sunny Tripower 3.0/4.0/5.0/6.0

Mehr Power für Hausdachanlagen

Der kleinste dreiphasige Wechselrichter von SMA heißt Sunny Tripower 3.0-6.0 und ist mit nur 17 Kilogramm ein echtes Leichtgewicht. Der im Wechselrichter integrierte Service SMA Smart Connected informiert im Fehlerfall automatisch. Probleme können so schneller und einfacher behoben werden. Höhere Solarstromerträge sind mit der SMA Power+ Lösung möglich. Sind Module leicht verschattet, kommt die Smart–Modultechnik TS4-R zum Einsatz. Die Optimierer lassen sich ganz gezielt nur an den betroffenen Modulen installieren. Die Kommunikation dazu ist bereits im neuen Sunny Tripower 3.0-6.0 integriert.

Sunny Highpower PEAK3

Sunny Highpower PEAK3

Die Top 3 im Bereich Solarkraftwerke

1. Sunny Highpower PEAK3: Der neue Wechselrichter mit bis zu 150 kW Leistung kommt in dezentralen PV-Kraftwerken mit 1500V DC-Spannung zum Einsatz. Er ermöglicht flexible Planung, schnelle Projektumsetzung und einfachen Service.

2. Sunny Central 3000-EV: Der Zentralwechselrichter läuft bis 35 °C noch bei voller Leistung und senkt die Systemkosten in großen PV-Kraftwerken um 10 Prozent. Integriert in die Medium Voltage Station sorgen zwei Sunny Central 3000-EV im schlüsselfertigen Container inklusive Mittelspannungstransformator und -schaltanlage für 6000 kW Leistung.

3. SMA Power Plant Manager: Der neue SMA Power Plant Manager ermöglicht mit seinen flexiblen Daten- und Signalschnittstellen auf Basis der neuen Energiemanagement-Plattform ennexOS eine einfache Systemintegration. PV-Kraftwerksbetreiber profitieren von zuverlässigem Anlagenbetrieb und effizienten Wartungsfunktionen..

Sunny Boy Storage 3.7-6.0

Sunny Boy Storage 3.7-6.0

Batterie-Wechselrichter in allen Anwendungen

1. Sunny Boy Storage 3.7-6.0: Für Eigenheimbesitzer, die mit dem Einsatz eines Batteriespeichers noch mehr selbst erzeugte Energie auch selbst nutzen wollen, bietet der neue Sunny Boy Storage 3.7-6.0 Batterie-Wechselrichter die Möglichkeit, bis zu drei verschiedene Hochvoltbatterien unterschiedlicher Hersteller zu integrieren.

2. Sunny Tripower Storage: Der neue dreiphasige Batterie-Wechselrichter ermöglicht die Einbindung von Hochvoltbatterien in gewerbliche und industrielle PV-Speichersysteme bis zu einem MW Leistung. Anwender können so die Lastflüsse optimieren und Strombezugskosten sparen.

3. Sunny Central Storage: Der für den ees Award nominierte Batterie-Wechselrichter realisiert als Bestandteil der SMA Speicher-Lösung für große PV-Anwendungen die intelligente, netzgebundene Integration von Speichern der Megawatt-Klasse mit und ohne PV-System.

Kostenlos zur Intersolar

Wer Lust auf noch mehr Lösungen und Neuigkeiten bekommen hat, sollte sich die Intersolar Europe in München nicht entgehen lassen. Für die besonders schnellen Solarfans unter euch gibt es auch in diesem Jahr wieder Freikarten. Schreibt einfach eine Mail an This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. und mit ein bisschen Glück senden wir euch Tickets per Mail zu.

Wir freuen uns auf euch am SMA Stand in München in Halle 3, Stand B3.210. Und natürlich auch auf viele spannende Fußball-Spiele bei der WM 2018.

The Parties to the Paris Agreement spent the first two weeks of May in Bonn, discussing amongst other things, the so-called rule book of the Paris Agreement. There was some progress, but the issues on the table are far from settled, to the extent that another negotiating session has been slotted in between now and COP24. That session will take place in Bangkok in early September.

The question on my mind is whether the pace is sufficient for setting out the conditions for countries to start ratcheting up their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) and shifting the current combined emissions trajectory from one that is potentially 3+°C to something that is closer to ‘well below 2°C’. The required changes are significant, as we noted in the recently released Sky scenario. For example, in the first 5-year period which is now opening with the Fijian inspired Talanoa Dialogue, we imagined a ratchet as sizable as China contributing a sharply falling emissions profile by 2030, rather than a peaking of emissions around 2030. Similarly, in the second NDC cycle from 2023-2028, a country such as India would contribute a clear peak in emissions in the 2030s. This would be a significant step up from the current contribution based largely on expansion of renewable energy in the electricity sector, efficiency and forestry, with a decline in emissions intensity of GDP, but no indication of absolute emissions limits.

China & India Sky Emissions

While the formulation of NDCs isn’t necessarily dependent on the outcome Paris Agreement rulebook, the Paris Agreement still plays a critical role in driving the necessary changes. We identified the elements of this in the Sky scenario through the scenario framework within which Sky sits.

New Lens Scenario Matrix

The elements of the framework are the necessary mechanisms to share common interests and the strength of leadership to take these forwards. The mechanisms start with the UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement at the top, but include various multilateral institutions and important initiatives such as the C40 and RE100. These then require strong leadership to function effectively and extract maximum value. In the runup to the Paris Agreement, the world occupied this space with many institutions rising to the challenge of formulating an agreement, propelled by very active leadership from the likes of the UNFCCC Executive Secretary, Christiana Figueres and many heads of government.

In Sky, the level of effort and action that delivered Paris should perpetuate for many years to ensure the Agreement takes root, yet it wasn’t apparent to me when I was in Bonn that this was the case. The discussions on Article 6 of the Agreement are reflective of the whole, although the negotiators discussing Article 6 have probably made more progress than most. Nevertheless, progress is slow and the big picture seems to be getting lost in the detail.

For example, one aspect of the discussion around the mechanism under 6.4 is focusing on provisions for projects that might be outside the scope of the NDC and how any carbon reduction units from such projects should be handled by receiving countries. But the discussion has missed a vital point, in that if there is broad application of such a provision then the Paris Agreement itself could be in trouble, because we should see the NDCs expand rapidly to cover all activities. As such, there shouldn’t be any projects outside the scope of the NDCs.

Part of the reason for considering projects outside the NDCs is that if they sit inside, then the movement of carbon units beyond the border of the host country for use by someone else will require a corresponding adjustment to the NDC – I discussed this in my previous post. This then opens another set of issues, around accounting. Corresponding adjustments should require full quantification of the NDC in CO2 terms, which takes the NDC into the territory of carbon budgets. Many countries don’t want this, but it is an inevitable outcome if the Paris Agreement is to work. So there is something of a Catch 22 building up, in that negotiators are avoiding the need for robust carbon accounting by negotiating a set of conditions that could undermine the Agreement itself, which in turn would undermine the value of the carbon units they are seeking to create. Unlike some Catch 22s, there is a simple way out here – embrace accounting and embrace the expansion of NDCs.

Moving forward requires leadership, which isn’t absent, but has certainly changed since 2015. There is something of a global trend back to nationalism and away from multilateralism, which potentially takes the world out of the top right region of the matrix. This in turn challenges the ultimate outcome of the Agreement, to limit surface temperature warming to well below 2°C. In Sky, we noted the following;

Achieving net-zero emissions in just 50 years leaves no margin for interruption, stalled technologies, delayed deployment, policy indecision, or national back-tracking. Rather, it requires a rapid acceleration in all aspects of an energy transition and particularly robust policy frameworks that target emissions. Success can be accomplished only through a broad process that is embraced by societies, led by governments, and lightly coordinated by organisations including the UNFCCC, the EU, ASEAN, and others.

In the context of the NDCs it means rapid expansion to cover all activities and full transparency through robust carbon accounting and quantification. But there is still some distance to travel before such an outcome is realised.

Note: Scenarios are not intended to be predictions of likely future events or outcomes and investors should not rely on them when making an investment decision with regard to Royal Dutch Shell plc securities. Please read the full cautionary note in http://www.shell.com/skyscenario.


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