New Solar Collector for CSP
A new solar collector could be a promising opting for concentrating solar power (CSP) technology.
Startup Skysun developed the “ganged heliostats” that could help cut the cost of a CSP systems by – at least – 30%.
The new collector 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.
Earlier heliostat concepts didn’t show to be cost competitive or viable. This one is promising.
Ganged New Solar Collector for CSP
The ganged heliostat prototype has been 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.
Custom codes for mirror positioning to reduce shading
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.
The tested ganged heliostat shoud demonstrate weather the technology is stable, performing optimal and the costs to potential partners.
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