Next Generation Parabolic Collector Debuts

The past year or so hasn’t been kind to concentrating solar thermal companies, as plunging photovoltaic prices have led developers to ditch the technology for several high-profile projects, including the Calico and Blythe utility-scale plants in California. But Sopogy, for one, is fighting back, introducing SopoHelios, its next-generation parabolic collector.

“SopoHelios maximizes the efficiency for our solar thermal systems and significantly improves the system paybacks,” said Darren T. Kimura, president and CEO of Sopogy. Kimura said because of enhanced efficiency, fewer collectors would be required on projects, reducing engineering and construction costs and speeding up solar field assembly.

concentrating solar thermal, SopoHelios, Sopogy

image via Sopogy

SopoHelios features “a light-weight core, solar tracking, all-weather stow mode, ease of assembly, low maintenance and the capability to enable local manufacturing,” the company said.

Concentrating thermal does have some inherent advantages over photovoltaic, as it can be used for power generation or process heat (think steam used in food processing), and can also be combined with absorption chillers to run air conditioning systems that displace electric load.

Honolulu-based Sopogy said it tested SopoHelios “in the hot, lava field deserts of Kona for strength, torsion and durability.” The system will soon move from testing to real-world application, with SopoHelios due to be used at Kalaeloa Solar One, a 5 megawatt power plant being built about 15 miles outside Honolulu, Sopogy said.

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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.

  • Hans-Christian Francke

    There is someu00a0seriousu00a0misconceptionsu00a0related to parabolic collectors. First, a curved mirrored collector does not generate more energy than a flat plate collector. Second, higher temperatures will increase the heatloss. Third, flat plate collectors may also provide high temperatures for cooling and other applications where temperatures up to 100 C is required. See: http//www.catchsolar.net

  • Thanks for the comment, Mr.nFrancke. Very interesting. Are flat-plate collectors in use or suitable for larger-scaleninstallations (like the 5-MWu00a0Kalaeloa Solar One that will use Sopogy’snparabolic reflector) tou00a0provide electricity, heat and cooling?