New Solar Collector Heralds New Era in CSP

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Solar thermal energy technology has taken an important step further with a new collaboration between 3M’s Renewable Energy Division and Gossamer Space Frames. The companies yesterday unveiled a new parabolic trough solar collector technology designed to reduce costs and equipment for concentrated solar power systems. CSP is a solar system whereby sunlight is converted to heat and then the heat is converted to electricity. The demonstration system is installed at the Sunray Energy facility in Daggett, California.

3M and Gossamer’s collector is called Large Aperture Trough (LAT 73). It features a concentration factor of over 100x and an aperture size of 7.3m. It also features 3M’s high reflectivity Solar Mirror Film 1100. These panels are 50 percent lighter than glass and they offer 94.5 reflectivity.

It is a combination of optical performance and light weight that made possible the design of the large aperture collector. The system has been verified by the National renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), which measured an optical accuracy of more than 99 percent. The companies add these collector’s specs are worldwide benchmarks for the industry and promise a cost reduction of 25 percent.

“The LAT technology is an exciting development for the CSP industry, as it demonstrates the possibilities in solar concentrating technology,” said Dr. Dan Chen, business development manager at 3M Renewable Energy Division.

Article by Antonio Pasolini, a Brazilian writer and video art curator based in London, UK. He holds a BA in journalism and an MA in film and television.

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Walter’s contributions to CleanTechies over the past 4 years have been instrumental in growing the publications social media channels via his ongoing editorial and data driven strategies. He is the founder and managing director of Sunflower Tax, a renewable energy tax and finance consultancy based in San Diego, California. Active in the San Diego clean technology community, participating in events sponsored by CleanTech San Diego, EcoTopics, and Cleantech Open San Diego, Walter has also been a presenter at numerous California Center for Sustainability (CCSE) programs. He currently serves as an adjunct professor at the University of San Diego School of Law where he teaches a course on energy taxation and policy.