San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) is one of many utility companies throughout the country considering future green technologies to adopt in the move towards more renewable energy sources. It has decided to test pilot two such concentrated solar power offerings over the next 12 to 18 months to decide which, if any, it will make use of across its service area.
SDG&E said it is investing around $80,000 in solar concentrator pilots using technology from companies Infinia and SolFocus. These two competitors have different ways of achieving the same end goal of concentrating light and heat from the sun to more efficiently generate solar power. Infinia’s offering, the PowerDish, is said to be “a mirrored disc 15 feet in diameter that concentrates and focuses the sun’s energy onto a compact Stirling engine that converts that energy into electricity. Each PowerDish produces up to 3,000 watts of electricity, enough to power a typical home.”
SolFocus, meanwhile, has its Concentrator Photovoltaic (CPV) Technology making use of “a reflective optical system to concentrate sunlight 650 times onto very high-efficiency photovoltaic cells up to twice as efficient as traditional silicon PV cells. The rectangular system is 24 feet wide, 18 feet tall and is capable of generating 8,400 watts, enough to power three homes.” SDG&E plans to share the results of its tests, which will determine “the real-world applications of these systems and their potential on a utility scale,” with both manufacturers after they are completed.
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