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CSP on the roof: a MicroCSP revolution

February 16, 2010

The implementation of regulations for the production of clean energy in buildings could boost the development of a new market for micro-CSP technology.

Submitted by: ECOticias.com / Red / Agencies, 16.02.2010, 17:16 h

Additional information by Rikki Stancich

 Different regulations aimed at the creation of systems for generating clean energy in buildings, are being introduced in many countries as part of an overall strategy on energy efficiency.

 Given that 74% of U.S. electricity consumption occurs in buildings, it is not surprising that energy efficiency and renewable energy are essential criteria in establishing certification standards for clean building construction, including: LEED certification by the U.S. Green Building Council and the British BREEAM certification.

 This would open new market opportunities for a relatively new technology such as micro-CSP that could be used to generate clean energy in buildings.

  The micro-CSP technology can be used to generate electricity and as a heating or cooling system, being able to generate energy in a range from 75 KW to 20 MW.  Furthermore, due to its size can be installed in small areas such as the roof of a building.

 ”A roof of a small size, such as a shopping center, is sufficient to install the equipment micro-CSP,” says Darren Kimura, CEO of Honolulu-based company Sopogy Inc, which has developed a variety of micro-CSP systems.

 In the case of the technology developed by Sopogy, the operation of ORC (organic ranking cycle) is based on the temperature difference in a closed loop, rather than using steam.  Moreover, unlike the large-scale CSP technology, micro-CSP does not need such strict conditions of solar radiation and can be used in cities.

 This is thanks to the ORC system is not based on a steam turbine and therefore not affected by the decrease in solar radiation produced, for example, by the passage of a cloud that causes a drop in steam temperature and the resulting system malfunction.

 The French producer heat2power version also has its own micro-CSP technology, which uses a combustion engine instead of steam.

 The idea is similar to that of a conventional combustion engine with the difference that in this case the machine is fed with compressed air using an external heat source (air heated in a solar receiver to 1200 ° C) rather than fuel and by internal combustion.  The system uses a solar concentration mechanism in a point and refraction of radiation to a central receiver tower.

 Heat2power model can be produced in small sizes, generate 10 to 500 KW and used from a second hand engine single cylinder 0.5 liter to a large marine engines.

  Like the model Sopogy, heat2power technology can be used to heating, cooling or desalination.

 ”The roofs of industries are an ideal location for small-scale CSP technology.  There are no search costs of land and the system can provide chilled or electricity to the factory, “says Randolph Toom, heat2power director.

 This is important if one considers that in some regions the air conditioning is responsible for more than 50% of electricity consumption in buildings for periods of about 6 months.

 Generation of clean energy without neglecting finance

 The micro-CSP technology can aid the design of buildings cleaner because this system would reduce the consumption of fossil fuels for heating, cooling or power supply in buildings.

  Currently, both the LEED certification and other regulations, do not require the use of a specific clean technology.

  However, micro-CSP systems are presented as a very strong compared to other technologies so that builders can obtain such certifications.

 The LEED certification gives 7 points for a total of 110 points possible for the generation of renewable energy in the building.  The UK BREEAM certification also awards points for using renewable energy or produce low emissions of carbon dioxide.

 In this micro-CSP systems have advantages over other technologies such as solar photovoltaic panels.

  ”It emits more carbon dioxide in the manufacture of photovoltaic panels on the production of micro-CSP systems,” said Rajan Kasetti, Executive Director of the California company Terrafore Inc, a consulting firm on energy and technology in the sector renewable.

 Kasetti also asserts that while PV systems can cover 5-10% of the energy needs of a large building, micro-CSP technology on a roof can provide 30-40% of the required energy.

  Builders tend to avoid the use of systems of renewable energy generation due to the additional costs they pose.  However, should find micro-CSP technology very attractive if one considers that these systems have a shorter amortization period with respect to other options.  Kimura believes that for micro-CSP this period ranges from 3 to 7 years depending on the size of the project.

 ”The use of PV systems increases costs.  But not so with micro-CSP.  In fact, this technology increases the energy efficiency of the building, “says Kimura.

 This is demonstrated by a study of comparative efficiency in air conditioning systems.  The photovoltaic efficiency for these systems would be 9% while that could reach 40% with micro-CSP.

 Randolph Toom adds that the return on investment in the case of the model developed by heat2power is much faster than for other options.  “The approximate cost is about € 300/kw to heat2power system, compared with € 2000/kw of a sterling engine.”

 Furthermore, compared with other energy systems removable small-scale micro-CSP technology is more efficient and given its storage capacity is also a more stable option.

 ”By using micro-CSP can store heat that can be used later to generate electricity or steam in periods of low solar radiation,” notes Kasetti. “CSP technology is much more stable than photovoltaics, which is subject fluctuations, “adds Kasetti.

 Thrusters demand

 Supportive measures such as feed-in tariffs will play a key role in the growth and market penetration of micro-CSP technology.

 ”The proliferation of solar power has occurred in countries where there are favorable feed-in tariffs, such as in parts of Europe,” said Kasetti.

 The British government has recently introduced feed-in tariffs to encourage users and local communities to implement small-scale facilities clean energy production up to 5 MW.

 The British legislation allows users to achieve economic benefits through the installation of clean energy generation.  The government also plans next year’s introduction of measures to encourage the installation of the type of micro-CSP technology.

 These measures will undoubtedly mean a boost for the sector.

 The increase in demand for clean buildings for multinational companies committed since the environmental point of view also influence the expansion of micro-CSP industry.

 ”The builder will have a marketing advantage if the facility has systems for generating clean energy,” says Kasetti.

 But Kimura believes it will take at least five years before micro-CSP technology is commonly used in buildings.

 ”Our challenge now is to educate the public about the benefits of micro-CSP technology and explain that such systems are only usable in the desert and can also be used to generate steam and as cooling systems, “concludes Kimura.

 es.csptoday.com

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