Sunrgi: Solar Power As Cheap As Coal ?  

Posted by Big Gav in , ,

Ecogeek has a post on a startup emerging from stealth mode called Sunrgi, which is selling Spectrolab's concentrating solar PV technology in units that may be able to generate power as cheap as coal. The units actually dump waste heat, so presumably they could be coupled with stirling engines or some sort of cogeneration style setup to generate more power (or at least some hot water or air).

Grid parity...it's what we're all hoping for. That magical moment when solar power (or other renewables for that matter) become available at the cost of current power sources. And, if Sunrgi's claims are to be believed, it could be only 15 months away.

Sunrgi's technology is fairly simple. Basically they use a magnifying glass to concentrate the power of the sun 1600 times onto a tiny square of the most efficient photovoltaic material on the planet. While others are concentrating on bringing the price of the panels down (along with efficiency), Sunrgi actually uses panels from Spectrolab, which are three times more efficient than the cheap panels being produced by NanoSolar.

The photovoltaic cells remain efficient even when collecting these huge amounts of light per square centemeter. However, they don't remain efficient at 3000 degrees F. In fact, if this much light were concentrated on the cells, and the cells were not cooled, they would melt. Sunrgi has developed a proprietary cooling system to keep the ultra-expensive cells at nominal temperatures even at the hottest part of the hottest day. You can see, in the render, that the bottom of the panels actually look like huge CPU heat sinks.

By using such a small amount of photovoltaic material, and such a large amount of cheap magnifying glasses, Sunrgi says that their system should be extremely inexpensive. In fact, they're saying that, in sunny climates, it will be sold for around $0.05 per kilowatt, about the cost of coal. They already have demonstration units running and hope to be selling their first units (to utilities and large businesses) in twelve to fifteen months.

2 comments

(cough) Another example of CSP, eh?

(splutter) I usually call this CPV and reserve CSP for solar thermal power, of course :-)

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