Solar Scaled Down For Disaster Relief

Here’s another entry in the emergency solar category, with the twist that this one isn’t photovoltaic. Instead, Nanogen is using concentrating solar power (CSP) with a system it says can be easily dispatched in a shipping container and deployed within 48 hours, with scalability up to 10 megawatts (MW). That, says CEO Perry West, makes Nanogen “the first company to successfully downscale the … technology used in billion dollar solar power plants.”

Nanogen says the NanoCSP’s parabolic troughs use lightweight, shatterproof thermoplastic instead of bent-glass, making them more environmentally friendly – recyclable, non-toxic, and producing no volatile organic compounds in production – in addition to trimming costs by 60 percent. The troughs come in sets that can produce up to 480 kilowatts (kW), and they heat a thermal liquid that powers gen-sets that can be scaled in 250 kW increments up to 10 MW.

portable concentrating solar power system, Nanogen

image via Nanogen

Nanogen claims its thermal energy storage tank can keep the fluid hot enough to provide power for up to 16 hours with no sun.

Disaster relief is the obvious use for a system like this, but Nanogen is also pitching NanoCSPs as “back-up power systems for public buildings, co-generation compliance by power companies, military deployments and several off-grid mining operations in Africa.”

Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.