New Mexico Company Teams with Chinese on Solar Microgrids with Thermal Storage

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solar microgrid

Focused Sun module

New Mexico company Focused Sun is partnering with  Xiang Yang Institute (XYI) in Hubei, China to develop solar microgrids with thermal storage to help relieve China’s smog problems.

“Focused Sun has squeezed the cost out of solar concentrators, the key part of the microgrid system that focuses sunlight. Together with thermal storage and Chinese turbogenerators, we can produce small power plants for microgrids,” said XYI Dean Jihong Chen, in a news release.

The system uses mineral oil heated by the sun to 300C to operate a turbogenerator. Thermal storage holds the heat for a day or more, so that it can generate electricity day or night.

“The solar energy peak is at mid-day, but people need heat and electricity in the evening,” says MIT David Gordon Wilson, an expert on thermal storage and turbomachinery and a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Wilson says thermal storage can power generators until the next day.

“For microgrids in the 100 kW to 10 MW range, low cost solar concentrators and thermal storage combined with turbogenerators make more sense than photovoltaic collectors and battery storage. Thermal storage is the key missing ingredient,” he said.

Focused Sun says that four times more solar energy is captured by the concentrators than by conventional PV panels of the same size. During the day, solar energy is stored thermally. At night or during cloudy periods, the energy is pumped from storage to the turbogenerator where 20 percent of the energy is converted to electricity, according to the news release.

Another 50 percent of the sun’s energy is available as heat to warm homes, hotel rooms and greenhouses or other structures. The system produces both electricity and hot water and can pay for itself in as little as two years, according to the company.

The solar microgrid system is built in a modular fashion so that it can be customized to various power plant sizes.

Follow us on Twitter @MicrogridNews for the latest in  solar microgrids.

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Elisa Wood About Elisa Wood

Elisa Wood is the chief editor of MicrogridKnowledge.com. She has been writing about energy for more than two decades for top industry publications. Her work also has been picked up by CNN, the New York Times, Reuters, the Wall Street Journal Online and the Washington Post.

Comments

  1. This is good stuff and can be worth twice what the business model contemplated will Generate .
    It could be perfect building block for many places.
    95% chance they are not doing this at locations that can capture the most value out the energy being created.

    I have pretty deep connections in NM and could help this project be a seed for a world changing breakthrough. They would only need to call me to work something out.
    I’m looking the leverage my knowledge base as broadly as possible, and not hard to work with. This will be people working on complementary projects that can become an company that can build on out master plan.
    If they have an anti fragile mental model.

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