Solar Thermal Magazine: Sopogy system to power a Multi-Building Health Clinic in Flordia

October 2, 2010

Solar Thermal Magazine - Sopogy MicroCSP

Micro Scaled Concentrated Solar Power units , Clean Energy to Power a Multi-building Health Clinic

By: Tracey A. Smith

Sopogy, Inc., manufacturer of the proprietary micro-scaled concentrating solar power (MicroCSP) system, is demonstrating its SopoNova™ solar panels at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida.

The project developed by STG International (previously known as Solar Turbine Group) is designed to be a model for cost effective, stand alone solar power solutions for health clinics in Africa. The MicroCSP system generates thermal energy by reflecting the sun’s energy from mirrors into a receiver tube, heating a transfer fluid to create steam. The steam spins a turbine which drives a generator and produces electricity. The system also includes thermal energy storage that allows power to be produced during cloudy periods.

Sopogy’s solar collectors feature a proprietary frame and storm protection, keeping the system safe during weather events that could include flying debris from hurricane strength winds. All components are also enclosed in an aerodynamic, rust-resistant housing which makes Sopogy’s collectors suitable for use in climates ranging from deserts to tropical environments.

“A particularly important breakthrough has been Sopogy’s development of smaller scale parabolic trough collectors that can be built at a lower cost, using commonly available manufacturing facilities and conventional materials,” says Tal Ziv, VP of Operations at Sopogy. “Not only can our modules be produced locally, but our collectors can also be manufactured anywhere in the world.”

The system is a hybrid electricity and hot water system. It will provide three kilowatts of electricity, enough to power a multi-building health clinic that treats between 50 and 100 patients per day in Lesotho, as well as produce up to 300 liters of hot water for staff and clinician use.

Other project collaborators include Krinner Ground Screws, the Florida Green Builders Coalition and Water Oak Development Group.

“This project exemplifies the efforts of organizations committed to environmental sustainability,” said Darren T. Kimura, CEO of Sopogy. “Sopogy is proud to focus on the triple bottom line using our technology to create local jobs, generating green energy, while staying focused on our business,” he adds.

Sopogy’s MicroCSP technologies are being deployed around the world including United States, the Middle East, Europe, Asia and Hawaii. The unique scalability and modularity of MicroCSP make it ideal for distributed generation applications such as electricity, process heating and solar air-conditioning.

Sopogy has engineering partners throughout the globe, who are certified to help develop and construct solar plants in their specific regions.

About Sopogy

Sopogy specializes in MicroCSP™ solar technologies that bring the economics of large solar energy systems to the industrial, commercial and utility sectors in a smaller, robust and more cost effective package. Sopogy’s goal is to create solar solutions that improve the quality of life and simplify the solar power business. Sopogy MicroCSP – Technology behind Energy™

Please visit for more information.

About STG International

Previously operating as the Solar Turbine Group, STG International is a non-profit organization based in Cambridge, Massachusetts whose mission is to provide technical, financial and intellectual support, assistance, and training to projects and organizations focused on bringing sustainable energy technologies to communities across the developing world.

Please visit or  for more information.

Sopogy awarded funding for innovative solar thermal air conditioning project

September 30, 2010


Sopogy awarded funding for innovative solar thermal air conditioning project

Honolulu, Hawaii – September 30, 2010 – Sopogy, Inc., a leading micro concentrated solar power (MicroCSP™) technology developer, today announced that it has been awarded funding from the Hawaii Renewable Energy Development Venture (HREDV) to integrate an innovative double-effect solar thermal air conditioning system at the Maui Ocean Center.

According to HREDV, the award was following a competitive selection process in which the winning companies showed how their technologies could be game changers in Hawaii and demonstrated strong technical and management expertise to execute the projects, manage federal funds and commercialize these innovations.

In the project, Sopogy will provide its proprietary parabolic trough solar collectors to produce thermal energy for a 20-ton double effect absorption chiller.  The system will significantly reduce the aquarium’s electricity consumption.

“The award by HREDV positively validates the benefits of MicroCSP technology as our high efficiencies, low cost and robust applications are helping bring energy solutions to new markets,” said Darren T. Kimura, President and CEO of Sopogy. 

Sopogy’s MicroCSP system consists of parallel rows of proprietary SopoNova™ parabolic mirror collectors, optics and an integrated tracker to concentrate the sun’s energy on a centrally-located receiver tube and re-circulate heat transfer fluid within the system. By producing thermal energy, the generated heat will then be used in conjunction with a double effect absorption chiller to provide a renewable source of cooling for the air conditioning system. 

The HREDV funding is made possible by the U.S. Department of Energy with appropriations secured at the request of Senator Daniel K. Inouye. 

About Sopogy

Sopogy developed the concept of the MicroCSP™ solar system which brings the economics of large Concentrating Solar Power systems to the industrial, commercial and utility sectors in a smaller, robust and more cost effective package. Sopogy’s goal is to deploy 1-50MW power solutions, 10-1,000 tons of solar air conditioning and limitless amounts of industrial process heat. Please visit for more information.


Hawaii Renewable Energy Development Venture was created in 2008 with funding from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. HREDV is a project of the Pacific International Center for High Technology Research (PICHTR), a Hawaii-based non-profit established in 1983 whose mission is to accelerate technology development in Hawaii and the Pacific Rim.  For more information about HREDV, please visit  


Media Contact
Sopogy, Inc.
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Greentech: Sopogy’s Small-Scale Concentrated Solar Power

August 2, 2010

Sopogy’s Small-Scale Concentrated Solar Power

Hot StartupSolar

Eric Wesoff : August 2, 2010

Smaller-scale CSP means lower temperatures—and it could mean lower-cost solar power.

Concentrated solar power (CSP) might conjure up images of massive solar collector installations in the California Mojave or North African desert with tens of thousands of mirrors or miles of parabolic troughs — along with a lot of annoyed tortoises, politicians and environmentalists.

Sopogy’s take on CSP is a bit different than that.

Smaller in size and operating at lower temperatures, the Sopogy design is CSP for the distribution grid or even the rooftop level.  Smaller scale means one to twenty megawatts versus big CSP at 100 megawatts-plus, and lower temperature means 500 degrees F versus 800 degrees F.  Those lower temperatures mean that the components can be a little more off-the-shelf and may reduce the need for expensive evacuated tubes and mirrors.

I spoke with Sopogy’s CEO, Darren Kimura, in his headquarters on Oahu.  Kimura founded the now 40-person firm in 2001 in Palo Alto, California and is a 19-year veteran of the energy industry, having already founded and sold an energy firm prior to his stint at Sopogy.  The firm was originally funded by Kimura but has since taken about $20 million from investors including Cargill’s VC arm, Black River Ventures, eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and TWC.

Sopogy is a parabolic trough design but the difference, according to the CEO, is this: “We are focused on reducing the cost by reducing the temperature.”  He added, “The sweet spot is 5 megawatts to 20 megawatts.”

Large-scale CSP firms like BrightSource Energy are “dealing with significantly larger projects with steam at nuclear power plant temperatures.”  Sopogy’s steam temperatures are more along the line of what a company like Ormat or Calpine would be encountering at a geothermal power plant.

Also like a geothermal power plant, the system uses an organic rankine cycle (ORC), which Kimura describes as akin to an air conditioner running backwards.  The ORC enables a lower collector temperature, an improved efficiency and the possibility of reducing the size of the solar field.  An ORC system uses the temperature difference between two liquids.

The MicroCSP of Sopogy also has the benefit of a thermal storage option.  The storage fluid is a food-grade mineral oil stored in a container “like a big thermos.”  Additionally, the thermal inertia of the working fluid eliminates some of the intermittency faced by a photovoltaic panel installation.

In addition to Wholesale Distributed Generation (WDG), Kimura sees the the low-profile trough system potentially used on a flat roof in a city.  The steam can be used to spin a small turbine or for Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR), air conditioning, process heat or evaporative desalination.

The Sopogy system doesn’t need high DNI (Direct Normal Irradiance) as the BrightSource Energy system does, according to Kimura. BrightSource needs 7 plus DNI but Sopogy can work at 5 DNI.  That means Sopogy can and is installing systems in the Pacific Northwest, Idaho, the Middle East, Spain and Australia.

“We are competing against PV [and] we are cheaper than most PV,” according to the CEO.  Kimura said that the capex depends on the market and depends largely on the local labor costs since the system is built on-site.  The projects can be installed for as little as $3 per watt, but in general, the cost is $5 per watt with an LCOE of about 20 cents per kilowatt-hour.

“We have about 75 megawatts under contract and in the process of being deployed,” according to the CEO.

Other CSP players include Ausra (recently purchased by Areva), Abengoa (which is doing small scale CSP for air conditioning), BrightSource, eSolar, and SHEC.  Michael Kanellos has written about next-generation solar thermal and molten salt storage, while Brett Prior writes about the economics of CSP here.


Institute For Energy LCOE comparisons

Original Article at –

Solve Climate: Solar Thermal Gears Up for a Comeback

July 20, 2010

Solar Thermal Gears Up for a Comeback

Low PV costs and a shaky economy have slowed the development of large-scale concentrating solar power plants, but CSP producers are

by Amy Westervelt – Jul 15th, 2010 in concentrating solar power,CSP,solar thermal,utilities

A few years ago, when a polysilicon shortage suddenly drove up the price of photovoltaic panels, solar thermal was all the rage.

Start-ups were emerging every week, introducing new super-concentrating mirror technologies, special reflective films and other innovations.

Companies began announcing plans for utility-scale solar thermal plants anywhere there was sun in the United States. Solar thermal, also called concentrating solar power (CSP), not only had a cost advantage over photovoltaics, it offered one thing PV never could: storage, and thus stability.

So where did all the solar thermal go?

While there have been a few highly publicized bouts between large-scale solar thermal proponents and conservation groups concerned about the land required to build such plants, the real issue comes down to simple economics. Back when there was private capital available to fund projects like giant solar plants in the desert, the technology was still new and relatively untested. Now, just as the technology has matured, private capital has dried up with the recession.

Federal stimulus money has provided some grants and loan guarantees, but by all accounts the government just can’t afford to be the only funder of large-scale solar thermal plants. Moreover, the silicon glut is long gone, and PV is now the better option for utilities looking to get renewable energy into their portfolios cheaply and quickly.

Elsewhere in the world, CSP is still the technology of choice for large-scale solar, according to Jayesh Goyal, North American sales director for French utility Areva, which recently acquired Silicon Valley solar thermal start-up Ausra Solar.

The key for the U.S. market is to bring down the cost of the equipment, its installation and its operation and maintenance.

“For awhile there was a lot of development down the path of very customized solutions—lots of complicated lenses and materials,” said Sumeet Jain, a principal with CMEA Capital, a longtime investor in solar technology. “That means more expense—and maybe higher performance—but definitely at a lot of expense.”

Now companies are leveraging more off-the-shelf components, Jain said. “Solar thermal projects, for example, might go with a standard boiler or opt for flat mirrors instead of custom, curved glass.”

Such choices make it easier to get financing, because companies are using tested, proven components, Jain added. It also makes it easier to partner with manufacturers to get better deals on parts and drive down the overall cost of a project.

A number of solar thermal companies are working on the cost problem, each finding new ways to make the economics more attractive to American utilities.

There are three primary CSP designs on the market today: solar towers, parabolic troughs and linear-Fresnel systems — and proponents of each have a rivalry similar to that between PV and thin film. Engineers can wax poetic for hours on the differences between the three, but the fact is that all CSP systems work in essentially the same way: Reflective surfaces with tracking systems are used to concentrate heat from the sun into a receiver filled with a heat-conducting fluid. It is then transferred to an engine that converts the heat to electricity.

In parabolic trough systems, each trough has its own receiver, while linear-Fresnel systems feature several rows of mirrors that point to a single receiver. In tower systems, thousands of tracking mirrors in a field capture and reflect sunlight to a central receiver atop a tower. Each technology has been touted as the most efficient, stable, cost-effective choice in the solar thermal repertoire. So far, linear-Fresnel — the technology used by Ausra Solar — has been dominating the market.

However, the parabolic trough team recently has made some advances in cost reductions. Colorado-based SkyFuel, for example, is set this year to commercialize its SkyTrough, a product the company estimates uses 30 percent fewer materials, 40 percent fewer parts and requires half the assembly time of the average solar thermal system. Those numbers are backed by a report on SkyTrough published by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Honolulu-based Sopogy sells what it calls a MicroCSP parabolic trough system that allows for the affordable, quick installation of smaller solar-generating plants, in the 2MW range.

The company’s systems can be installed in half the time it takes to install other systems, according to Sopogy representatives, and don’t require electricians or specialized installers, which reduces installation costs by 60 to 80 percent.

Sopogy’s greatest innovation, however, may be its marketing strategy: All CSP systems can operate at lower temperatures to fulfill a variety of demands beyond simply generating power. Sopogy has targeted that broader market, selling its system as a device with many applications — from power generation to cooling to drying.

In its first installation, a 2MW thermal energy plant in Hawaii, Sopogy is generating power on the grid; the next phase will help power a small desalination plant. In a rooftop installation at Sempra Energy in San Diego, Sopogy’s system is running the building’s air conditioning system.

“They’re getting free air conditioning from the sun,” Darren Kimura, Sopogy’s founder, said at this week’s Intersolar Conference in San Francisco. “It’s solar-augmented cooling. That makes the building more energy efficient. In that instance, we don’t necessarily think of the system as solar technology. It’s an energy conservation technology.”

While individual companies are making incremental improvements to CSP technology, until the cost is lower than that of photovoltaics, utilities are likely to continue to embrace PV. To overcome the bias, secure customers and acquire project financing, Goyal says companies need to be ready to back performance claims with their balance sheets.

That’s something most start-ups can’t do, which is why many of them are partnering with larger industrial partners. According to Goyal, that was the case when Areva acquired Ausra; similar acquisitions are happening throughout the industry, most notably Siemens’ acquisition of Israeli CSP company Solel last year.

“You need to be able to offer utilities a credible performance guarantee. This is the reason that half the large-scale CSP projects announced have failed,” Goyal told Intersolar conference participants this week. “Because what is behind that guarantee? If you’re a start-up, and you guarantee the performance of your technology and it fails, you’ll just go out of business. That’s not a guarantee.”

To deal with utilities’ hesitation and price concerns, Goyal says Areva’s strategy of building so-called “booster” projects at existing plants—smaller CSP installations that take some of the load off an existing power plant—have been successful. The booster plants help reduce emissions and increase a utility’s comfort level with CSP.

Still, he said, utilities are never likely to choose CSP over PV simply because of the storage and stability advantages of the technology.

“At the end of the day, you have to be able to benchmark your offering against not only the lowest-cost solar offering, but the lowest-cost renewable. But, even though utilities have a preference for PV because it’s cheaper, smaller, and easy to deploy rapidly so they can meet their RPS [Renewable Portfolio Standard] requirements, they all say that if CSP can match the cost of PV, they have a preference for CSP.”

That holds true in Europe, where feed-in tariffs and government subsidies make the two comparable, and utilities show a heavy preference for CSP. Analysts and experts are confident that day will come in the United States as well. The U.S. Department of Energy has predicted a 13 percent growth in the CSP market over the next 20 years, and a total installed U.S. capacity of 20GW by 2020.

In other words, the sun isn’t ready to set on solar thermal.

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CSP Today: CSP installations – Room to scale down?

June 29, 2010

25 June 2010

If Southwestern US states are to meet their renewable energy targets on time, energy experts are urging developers to ditch their fixation on large-scale CSP projects.

By Emma Clarke, UK correspondent

Banging a new drum on the scale of CSP, energy experts now say developers’ focus should be on deploying smaller solar plants on rooftops and on abandoned farms closer to urban centres. But can CSP tap into this interim market for distributed energy, or must it always be limited to utility-scale applications?

Progress of large CSP plants in the southwest US has been held back by long delays that are associated with transmission build-outs. Existing transmission lines are at full capacity, and new lines are hugely expensive, hugely controversial and can take a decade, even more, to complete, says Craig Lewis, founding principal of consultancy RightCycle and the FIT Coalition. “In many cases, the transmission won’t ever get built because it is so wildly opposed by the communities it crosses.”

Building large central station solar plants and transmission lines to remote desert locations also involves major environmental trade-offs in terms of water usage and impact on virgin desert, says Bill Powers, engineer and energy consultant.

On the other hand, wholesale distributed generation, or the 20MW-and-under, distribution-interconnected market segment is “cheaper, faster and avoids all of the environmental controversy,” says Powers. He points to Germany, which has installed between 2-4GW of distributed PV every year, “in conditions more akin to the Arctic from a California standpoint”.

In the future, utility-scale CSP plants will provide the backbone of renewable energy in southwest USA, with hundreds of gigawatts of solar power eventually being shipped to the far corners of the United States, says Lewis. But utilities must not get ahead of themselves and neglect a market segment that can come on scale in the near term.

Any room for CSP?

The technology that is expected to dominate the distributed generation market is photovoltaics (PV). Most agree that CSP will be left to niche applications.

“CSP’s strength is in economies of scale”, says Craig Turchi, from the CSP program at the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). CSP only becomes cost competitive with PV once large amounts of energy are produced, or when large numbers of units are manufactured.

CSP developers can’t even save costs in the permitting process by going for smaller-scale developments, Turchi adds. “It is more difficult to get a permit for a large site, but the level of effort in terms of costs are comparable for small sites,” he says. “All these factors push CSP into larger facilities.”

Not all agree, however. Craig Lewis believes there will be “a tremendous amount of innovation” from the CSP community to scale down their technology in order to participate in the wholesale-distributed energy market.

The key, he says, will be innovations in technology that can go through smaller power blocks. The reason companies currently prefer large-scale projects, is because 70MW power blocks are available off-the-shelf.

“But once we achieve scale for lower capacity power blocks, the pricing will come down,” says Lewis. When this happens, CSP technology will be competitive at a smaller scale.

Innovation is already underway. Hawaii-based designer and manufacturer, Sopogy has developed a range of micro CSP solutions that use smaller parabolic trough panels and an organic Rankine cycle (ORC) system, which instead of using steam, uses the temperature difference between fluids in a closed loop to generate electricity.

“In the US we see our technologies being installed on heavy commercial, industrial and utility sectors and on rooftops or ground mounted,” says a Sopogy spokesperson.

Sopogy’s technology, which generates energy in the range of 1-50MW, has eleven solar thermal energy facilities worldwide in applications including process heat, solar air conditioning, roof top deployment and, more recently, power generation.

Parabolic trough manufacturer and solar developer, Albiasa Solar is also scaling down its CSP technology in order to target new markets. To achieve this it is using Ram Power’s Solar Thermal Integrated Cycle (STIC) technology that integrates both ORC and steam turbine technologies into a single power block.

The key benefit of this technology, says Jesse Tippett, managing director of Albiasa, is that it can operate at lower temperatures for both heating and cooling. This means it generates more energy overall so developers can achieve greater economies of scale in smaller plants. The lower temperatures also mean the system can be air cooled to save on water usage.

Albiasa are working with developer Pacific Light and Power on a 10MW CSP plant in Hawaii. Tippett sees further applications in southwest USA for projects in the 10-20MW range. On projects of this size, Tippett says costs can compete with PV electricity.

Another opportunity for CSP technology in the distributed market will be for heat process applications. “Solar thermal offers a cost-effective method compared to regular grid electricity to heat water. On the distributed energy side, you will see a lot more development around that,” says Tippett.

Abengoa Solar’s parabolic trough system, for example, is being used to deliver heating, cooling and humidity control of manufacturing facilities at a Steinway & Sons piano factory in New York, and hot water for a minimum-security federal prison outside Denver.

It is unlikely that CSP technology will lead the market for wholesale distributed generation. But if smaller-scale generation does take hold in the United States, innovation could secure it a stake.

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Waste not: Maximising the mileage on CSP Systems

June 25, 2010

Moving away from the Sun Belt locations with their near-perfect direct normal irradiance (DNI), CSP Today’s Andrew Williams explores the advantages of small-scale and modular CSP options for temperate regions.

By Andrew Williams, UK correspondent

Compensating for size, several technologies enable developers of smaller scale CSP systems to capture waste heat and convert it into a cost-effective source of electricity.

Several smaller-scale an modular CSP systems use an Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC) to recover heat from low-temperature sources.

A good example is UK-based Freepower’s ORC Turbine Generator, a closed-cycle electrical power-generation system driven by external heat sources.  It comprises a generator, directly coupled to a multi-stage turbine driven by high-pressure hot gas (the working fluid), which is heated up and vaporised by the waste heat source before driving the turbine.

Two US products also employ ORC technology.  Sopogy’s MicroCSP system is designed on a low temperature, low pressure scheme, whereas Trimodal’s LTPC engine is a positive displacement device capable of using heat sources as low as 180F / 82 degrees Celsius.

“A positive displacement device is far more efficient and therefore capable of producing mechanical energy at a much lower pressure,” says Marty Johnson, President of Trimodal Group.

France-based Heat2Power’s system does not use an ORC, instead using air as the working medium.  It sees this as an important advantage for CSP since it makes it possible to run in an open thermodynamic cycle, aspirating ambient air and exhausting hot air, thus eliminating dry or liquid cooling requirements and saving on cost and water consumption.

More versatile

Many current offerings are relatively small-scale, which can be an advantage in some situations.  For example, the Freepower system can be located at the point of energy consumption (say, alongside rooftop solar-collectors), removing the need for a grid and eliminating distribution costs.

Other systems, such as Heat2Power’s and Sopogy’s, are modular, opening up the possibility of building them up to utility-scale.  However, the ideal scale is likely to vary between applications.

“In the case of solar absorption cooling, the technology is ideally [suited] to rooftop-installations, [whereas] for process heat system sizes can be as small as several collectors to several hundred collectors.  In power generation, the technology is best suited to utility-scale ground-mounted applications,” says Darren Kimura, President & CEO of Sopogy.

Trimodal’s system differs because it is designed for commercial or utility-scale.  Their current unit is a 100kw system, sufficient to power about 60-80 ‘US-sized’ homes.  They have recently finished engineering a second 250kw unit and expect to rapidly scale-up to larger-sized 250kw, 500kw, 1MW, 2.5MW, and 5MW modules.

“The technology could potentially be scaled to volumes above 5MW, but we feel that it will be most efficient to construct and install in those sizes,” says Johnson.

Niche markets

Although initially slated for automotive applications, Heat2Power soon considered its concept for other uses and are now paying ‘strong attention’ to the CSP sector.

“It makes more sense to run a heat engine 12-15 hours per day on concentrated sunlight that it does for about an hour per day in a car”, says Managing Director, Randolph Toom.

“We see several target-markets.  But as the technology [is] small, it fills the gap between Stirling engines and steam/gas turbines. This gap will become more and more important in decentralized power-generation, and in countries where the grid is not yet available or in poor condition, it can become a life-changer”, he adds.

Sopogy’s focus is to expand into new and emerging solar power markets between 1-50mw and substantially reduce costs.  However, given the larger size of their system, Trimodal’s target CSP markets are primarily in large commercial and utility-scale solar-thermal projects.

Cost efficient

Is this the breakthrough technology that could drive down cooling costs and boost efficiency for utility-scale projects?  “Most definitely”, says Johnson, “we would be able to add capacity from their waste heat and have a big impact on cooling costs.”

However, size may not be the only important factor in driving down costs.  As Toom highlights, generators that run 24 hours a day are great for rapid returns on investment.

“In CSP applications, we see rooftops becoming more important because energy reflected by mirrors isn’t heating up the building, which in turn requires less cooling capacity.  In my opinion, factories, shopping malls and large office buildings in sunny countries should always be equipped with CSP”, he says.

However, does the emergence of waste heat capture technology undermine current views that the optimal size for CSP is upward of 100mw?  At this stage it’s difficult to tell, since the optimal sizing of projects depends on many factors, including grid-access and the availability of land and local water resources.

“I think that at the end of the day the question will not be ‘what is the optimal size of CSP?’ but rather ‘what size CSP do I want?’ Since the market in not yet mature, and neither are some CSP technologies, we will see the question coming back and being answered differently according to local conditions, politics, presence of a reliable grid, local cost of maintenance and so on,” says Toom.

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Sahara-based Solar Power Project Could Help Power Europe within 5 Years

June 24, 2010

Thursday, 24 June 2010

European project Desertec could power Europe within five years as solar technology in walls and curtains comes closer to being commercially viable.

The European energy commissioner recently announced that Europe could draw clean energy from solar panels constructed in the Saharan desert within five years, half the initial 10-year estimate. The series of solar projects in Northern Africa known as Desertec are funded with the help of the EU and some European companies, in the hope that the EU will meet its target of generating 20 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020.

The latest statistics from Europe’s Energy Portal show that in 2006 the EU as a whole produced 9.2 percent of its energy from renewable sources, however the production of renewable energy and the target EU members hope to meet by 2020 varies from country to country. For example Malta, which produced 0 percent of its energy through renewable resources in 2006, aims to meet a target of 10 percent by 2020, while the Czech Republic which produced 6.5 percent of its energy from renewable sources in 2006 aims to increase this to 13 percent by 2020.

Solar technology could also soon become practical on a smaller scale, being used in households in order to reduce individual carbon footprints and increase domestic reliance on renewable energy. Konarka technologies have been developing thin film photovoltaic for nine years and are currently in partnership with Arch Aluminum and Glass in an effort to produce solar technology that could be used in home fittings such as curtains or walls thereby reducing household reliance on fossil fuels. The cells under development can store and reuse light from lightbulbs as well as the sun and are made of recycled materials.

Other companies, such as Solar Technologies FZE, are also hoping to develop solar panels for use in private accommodation. Technology in small-scale architecture has been in development for several years and Hawaii-based company Sopogy released commercially available solar technology for rooftop installations in 2009.

Source: The Independent

Technology Company’s Attorney Fights on Behalf of Alternative Energy

June 21, 2010

Friday, June 18, 2010

Forty under 40 Class of 2010

Pacific Business News (Honolulu)

As general counsel, Pamela Ann Joe guides her venture-backed technology company through the many legal and financial issues that challenge the alternative-energy industry.

She also is a guiding force in the industry. She was a member of a legislative working group that developed alternative-energy initiatives for the state. And she represents the sole concentrating solar power stakeholder in an ongoing effort to develop guidelines for the state’s Feed-in-Tariff Renewable Energy Incentive Program.

Outside of work, Joe provides legal services to startup business and nonprofits either pro bono or at reduced cost. She also volunteers with the Hawaiian Humane Society, Aloha United Way and the Kam Society, a Chinese cultural organization.

At work, she encourages her co-workers to reduce their impact on the environment. One such initiative is “Fossil Fuel Free Fridays,” when employees are encouraged to find alternative means of traveling to and from work rather than using their cars.

Read more: Technology company’s attorney fights on behalf of alternative energy – Pacific Business News (Honolulu)

Beyond Zero Emissions of Australia talks MicroCSP with Darren Kimura CEO of Sopogy

June 4, 2010

Beyond Zero Emissions’ Mathew Wright and Scott Bilby speak to Darren Kimura, President and CEO of Sopogy, a leader in MicroCSP technologies, about the commercial availability and application of solar technologies. Applications including Direct Heat, Power generation with an organic rankine cycle and solar air-conditioning using absorption chiller a huge emerging market.

Inc. Magazine: Incubation Nation – Where Great Ideas Are Born – Sopogy of Hawai

May 26, 2010

Spun out of university research labs or started by local entrepreneurs trying to supercharge their hometowns, business incubators are everywhere. This map puts the spotlight on 20 initiatives.

Hawaii is leveraging its most abundant resources — sun and sea. The 45 tenants at the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority are developing applications in aquaculture, renewable energy, and marine biotechnology. Who gets in:Innovative start-ups nationwide.Breakout company: Sopogy has raised nearly $20 million for development of its micro-solar panels.

Incubation Nation: Where Great Ideas Are Born - Kona, Hawaii

Incubation Nation: Where Great Ideas Are Born

Click map to see the original, interactive version

Source: Inc.

Concentrating Solar Power Projects Showed Growth in 2009

April 15, 2010

From: Power-Gen Worldwide

15 April 2010 — Three new concentrating solar power (CSP) facilities came online in the United States in 2009, the third year in the past four such facilities were added following 15 years of inactivity.

The 5 MWac Sierra SunTower from eSolar, the 2 MWac Holaniku trough from Sopogy and the 5 MWac Kimberlina linear Fresnel system from Areva Solar (formerly Ausra) came online during 2009. The Sierra SunTower is the first power tower operating in the U.S. in a decade and Holaniku is the first CSP facility to come online in Hawaii.

The 2009 CSP market summary was released April 15 by the Solar Energy Industries Association.

Also last year, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced two initiatives to speed the development of solar energy on public lands. First, four Renewable Energy Coordination Offices were established across the west (in California, Nevada, Wyoming and Arizona), along with renewable energy teams in five other offices. Second, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) identified 14 solar energy projects that were in position to qualify for stimulus-related funding, if permitted during 2010. BLM and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service have focused their resources on getting these “fast-track” projects through the permitting process so they can commence construction by Dec.31, 2010.

The trade association said the United States now has 432 MW of operational CSP plants in commercial production (as of March 2010), making it the world leader in installed CSP. At least three additional CSP facilities are likely to come online in 2010: a 2 MWac Stirling dish installation in Phoenix, Ariz., a 4 MWth trough plant displacing coal-fired generation in Grand Junction, Colo. and the 75 MW Martin Next Generation Solar Energy Center hybrid trough in Martin County, Fla.

Sopogy Features Solar Hybrid Electricity & H20 System

April 13, 2010

Posted by Joanna Schroeder – April 13th, 2010

Sopogy, Inc. has partnered with Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida to showcase its SopoNova solar panels. The project, developed by STG International, has been designed to be a model for cost-effective, stand alone solar power solutions for health clinics in Africa.

According to the company, the MicroCSP system generates solar energy by reflecting the sun’s energy from mirrors into a receiver tube, heating a transfer fluid to create steam. The steam then spins a turbine that drives a generator and produces electricity. The system also includes storage for use on cloudy and rainy days.

“A particularly important breakthrough has been Sopogy’s development of smaller scale parabolic trough collectors that can be built at a lower cost, using commonly available manufacturing facilities and conventional materials,” says Tal Ziv, VP of Operations at Sopogy. “Not only can our modules be produced locally, but our collectors can also be manufactured anywhere in the world.”

One of the features that makes the system unique is that it combines both solar energy to produce electricity and hot water. This system will provide three kilowatts of electricity, enough to power a health clinic that sees up to 100 patients a day as well as produce up to 300 litres of hot water for clinic use.

“This project exemplifies the efforts of organizations committed to environmental sustainability,” said Darren T. Kimura, CEO of Sopogy. “Sopogy is proud to focus on the triple bottom line using our technology to create local jobs, generating green energy, while staying focused on our business.”

related topics: Electricity, News, Solar

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: / 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.

Rooftop CSP: Greening the cities

February 11, 2010

Green building certification along with a host of demand-drivers may provide micro-CSP with critical market leverage.

By Rajesh Chhabara

Additional reporting by Rikki Stancich

Green building certification is gaining traction in many countries as a means of energy management.

With buildings accounting for some 74 percent of electricity use in the United States, it is hardly surprising that energy efficiency and use of renewable energy have become key criteria in green building certification standards such as US Green Building Council’s LEED certification and UK’s BREEAM certification.

As a relatively new product to market, micro CSP opens up new opportunities for buildings – green or otherwise – to efficiently generate on-site renewable energy.

A portable and scalable on-site solar energy solution, micro CSP can be used to generate electricity, as well as to provide heating and cooling. Suitable for generating energy in the range of 75 KW to 20 MW, micro CSP’s size means the system can be installed in a small area – including on the rooftop of a building.

 “A small rooftop, for example the roof top of a large box store such as Wal-Mart, is sufficient to install the micro CSP system,” says Darren Kimura, chief executive of Honolulu-based Sopogy Inc, which has developed a range of micro CSP solutions.

In Sopogy’s case, the micro version runs of an organic ranking cycle (ORC), which instead of using steam, uses the temperature difference between fluids in a closed loop. Unlike large-scale CSP, which requires desert-like conditions of perfect direct normal irradiation, Sopogy’s micro CSP can operate in or near cities.

This is because the ORC is less vulnerable than plants running off a steam turbine, where a cloud passing overhead can cause the steam temperature to drop and the system to shut down.

France-based technology developer, heat2power, has come up with its own version of micro CSP, which uses CSP to power traditional cylinder engines rather than steam turbines or Stirling engines.

The concept is similar to that of a standard combustion engine, except the engine is powered by compressed air, using an external heat source (air heated on a solar receiver to around 900 – 1200°C) rather than from fuel creating an internal combustion.

Using a point concentrating solar array to reflect light and heat to a central receiver tower, the heat2power model is scalable and can utilise anything from a single cylinder 0.5 litre engine to large marine engines based on marine engine blocks, generating power from 10KW – 5MW.

An added advantage is that the engine runs in an ‘open cycle’ and therefore does not require cooling towers or expensive dry cooling used for condensing steam.

Like Sopogy’s solution,  heat2power’s captures the waste heat, which can then be used for heating, cooling and desalination.

“Factory roof tops are the ideal place for small scale CSP. It doesn’t require purchase of land and the shade of the mirrors lowers the cooling requirements of the building underneath“ says Randolph Toom, managing director of heat2power. 

This is significant, given that in many regions air-conditioning can account for more than 50 percent of the electrical usage in buildings over a six-month period.

Greening the city, not breaking the bank

Micro CSP can help take green building standards to the next level, given that the system reduces the use of fossil fuel to heat, cool and power buildings.

Currently, LEED and other green certification systems do not require specific renewable technology, nor do they standardise energy systems.

However, compared to other options on the table, micro CSP promises to significantly help builders achieve points for certification.

LEED certification currently allows up to seven points for on-site renewable energy, out of the total 110 points possible. BREEAM, UK’s green building certification standard also awards points for the use of low carbon energy and renewable energy.

Here, micro CSP has an advantage over other similar-scale solar products such as photovoltaic panels.

“More carbon is emitted during manufacturing of PV panels than in making micro CSP system,” says Rajan Kasetti, chief executive of California-based Terrafore Inc, a renewable energy consulting and technology firm.

Kasetti also notes that while PV technology may be good for meeting 5-10 percent of a large building’s energy needs, micro CSP on the rooftop can provide 30-40 percent of the energy needed.

Builders, who often cite increased cost of adding renewable energy system as a reason for avoiding them, will find micro CSP’s shorter payback period very attractive. Kimura estimates the payback to range from three to seven years, depending on project size.

“If you use photovoltaic, it does increase the cost. But solar thermal cooling does not. It actually makes the overall building more efficient,” says Kimura.

This is demonstrated via an efficiency comparison in the case of air-conditioning. Photovoltaic efficiency is around 9 percent, compared to solar thermal efficiency, which can be as high as 40 percent. 

Toom similarly notes that the return on investment on the heat2power CSP solution is much faster than for other solar options.

“The cost is roughly €300/kw (US$407/kw) for a heat2power engine, compared with around €2000/kw (US$2,712/kw)  for a Stirling engine or €1000/kw (US$1,356/kw) for a steam turbine,” he says.

Compared to other small-scale renewable energy options, micro CSP is a more efficient and, given its capacity for storage, a more stable option.

 “Using micro CSP, heat can be stored which then can be used to generate power or steam when the load is higher in the evening or when the sky is cloudy,” points out Kasetti.  “CSP is also much more stable than the PV which is subject to fluctuations,” he adds.

Demand drivers

Support policies such as feed-in tariffs will play an important role in increasing the market penetration of distributed generation systems such as micro CSP.

“Solar energy proliferation has happened in countries where there are good feed-in tariffs as in some parts of Europe,” notes Kasetti.

The UK government recently introduced a feed-in tariff scheme to encourage households and local communities to set up small-scale clean energy generation of up to 5 MW.

The UK’s scheme enables households to earn money by installing low carbon electricity generation. The government also plans to introduce renewable heat incentive for installing micro combined heat and power next year.

Such policies, if adopted elsewhere, will undoubtedly boost renewable micro-generation technologies such as micro-CSP.

Increasing demand for green buildings from sustainability-committed multinational companies will also expand the number of micro CSP installations.

“The builder has a marketing advantage if the building is fitted with on-site renewable energy,” says Kasetti.

But Kimura estimates it will take about five years before micro CSP becomes commonplace in buildings.

“Most other CSP companies are selling utility scale power projects. For us, the challenge is in educating people about the benefits of micro CSP and explaining that CSP is not just for the middle of desert and that it can actually be used for generating steam and cooling as well,” he concludes.

To respond to this article, please write to:

Rajesh Chhabara:

Or write to the editor:

Rikki Stancich:

Furlough Friday at Sopogy

February 5, 2010


DATE & TIME: The workshop will be held on Friday, March 12th from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

LOCATION: The Sopogy headquarters at 2660 Waiwai Loop. We will meet at the Sopogy building at 8:15am. Sopogy will be implementing their “Fossil Fuel Free Friday” so all employees, staff, students, and participants are encouraged to attend using an efficient alternative mode of transportation such as walking, bike, bus, or carpool.

EVENT: The workshop is free of charge and open to high school students, especially for those students interested in science, technology, sustainability, and entrepreneurship. Students will take a tour of the facilities, learn about Sopogy’s MicroCSP technology, find out how Energy Industries uses proven technologies to innovatively lower electricity demand, have a discussion with CEO and founder of Sopogy and Energy Industries Darren Kimura, and perform an experimental CSP project using pizza boxes and tin foil to make smores. HiSciTech CEO Keiki-Pua Dancil and Kanu Hawaii Executive Director James Koshiba will be on hand as special guests to discuss the significance of technology and sustainability. Lunch will be provided.As space is limited interested students should respond as soon as possible to reserve a spot and come prepared with an open mind and a passion to learn something new.

To reserve a spot or for more information please contact:

John Rankin           (808) 265-8715

Rechung Fujihira      (808) 840-7337

Special thanks to Round Table Pizza Kailua, Waialua Soda Works, and Styrophobia for providing lunch.

Darren Kimura CEO of Sopogy

Become a Sopogy Facebook Friend at:!/pages/Sopogy-Inc/57390177523?ref=ts

Hawaii Business Magazine – Sopogy Innovation Company 2010

January 29, 2010



Being Part of the Solution to Big Global Problems

Growing up in Hilo, Darren Kimura saw dock strikes and the closings of sugar plantations and wondered why Hawaii’s people could not be part of their own economic solutions. When the University of Hawaii graduate decided to start a solar-energy business, he chose the much-riskier route of creating new technologies rather than distributing and selling existing products and services.

“Hawaii not only imports oil and exports our dollars for our energy, but we also import technology for renewable energy and export dollars for that, too,” he says. “Renewable energy is the new agriculture and technologies can be designed, developed and deployed here, bringing clean green power to the Islands, but also sold around the world from Hawaii.”

As proof, Sopogy’s invention and manufacture of a unique solar concentrating panel has evolved a new technology called “MicroCSP” (Micro-Concentrating Solar Power), a miniaturized version of larger, decades-old CSP technologies operating in the world’s hot deserts. Reducing the size and improving the durability for a proven solar-energy technology means places like Hawaii – with an ocean salt and volcanic atmosphere, limited land space and tropical-storm weather – can harness sunlight on a large scale for energy.

In December, Sopogy unveiled the world’s first and largest MicroCSP facility, a 4-acre, 500-kilowatt-capacity solar farm in Kona on the Big Island, which can power more than 250 homes and cut oil imports by 2,000 barrels annually. The company says its scalable and modular MicroCSP solar-power collectors, together with its proprietary technologies, have caught international attention and a project is now proposed for Spain. From 2007 to 2008, revenues for the Honolulu-based company of 30 employees soared 680 percent.

However, Kimura says, it wasn’t an overnight success for Sopogy, which is an abbreviation of the words solar-power technology. He started the company in 2002 with his own money and spent the first five years without a profit, while focusing on the development of CSP intellectual properties.

New uses being explored for Sopogy’s technology include creating clean drinking water from sea water and manufacturing portable refrigeration units for farms. These uses are all part of the small company’s big ambition to be part of the solution to the global problems of climate change, energy security and sustainability.

“The culture of innovation has been, and remains, the key to Sopogy’s growth,” says Kimura. “We have the intelligence here in Hawaii to make us the beacon for the rest of the world when it comes to clean and green power.

-By Gail Miyasaki

Global Solar Thermal Energy Council

January 25, 2010

Hawaii: Electricity through Sunshine and MicroCSP Technology
Submitted by Baerbel Epp on Sun, 01/24/2010 – 09:00.

A solar field for electricity production: The 1,000 parabolic trough collectors by Hawaiian manufacturer Sopogy, which stand in the hot Kona desert on the Big Island of Hawaii, equal the output of a 2 MW thermal power.

Photo: Sopogy/Keahole Solar Power

In the middle of December, the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority, USA, inaugurated a huge solar thermal power plant by Hawaiian manufacturer Sopogy, consisting of 1,000 MicroCSP solar panels. With a reflection surface of 5 m2 and a length of 3.7 m, these parabolic trough collectors weigh 68 kg and follow the sun from east to west during the course of the day. Their reflectors are delivered by the German aluminium coating specialist Alanod Aluminium-Veredlung GmbH & Co. KG. They focus the sunlight on the receiver, which is filled with a liquid that heats up while running through a row of MicroCSP units. The demonstration project with a thermal power rating of 2 MW spans across almost 4 acres in the hot Kona desert on the Big Island.

“Through the use of mirrors and optics and an integrated sun tracker, these panels achieve an efficiency of 20 to 40 %, which is much higher than the average efficiency of crystalline photovoltaic modules with about 15 %,” the website of Sopology explains. The company was founded 7 years ago and focuses on bringing new renewable energy technology to the market.

To date, Sopogy has 8 solar thermal energy facilities with MicroCSP technology in operation around the world. They cover a wide range of applications, from solar cooling and process heat to desalination. The latest installation in Hawaii is also the first one to produce electricity. The US $20 million investment includes a lab and some portions of the parabolic trough field that will be used for advanced field R&D. The system also uses a thermal energy storage buffer to store some hot liquid for allowing energy production during cloudy periods and in the evening. Private equity investors supported the project. “We have a power purchase agreement in place, which allows for a reasonable rate of return,” Darren T. Kimura, President and CEO of Sopogy Solar Power Technology, explains.

The background to this story: The state of Hawaii is currently importing 90 % of its energy. The overwhelming dependency on energy imports prompted Governor Linda Lingle to sign a Clean Energy Initiative at the beginning of January 2008. The initiative aims at producing at least 70 % of the islands’ electricity through clean energy by 2030. The concentrated solar thermal technology is a major step towards reaching this ambitious target. Sopogy and its local solar project development partner Keahole Solar Power have the aim of adding 30 MW of MicroCSP power to the electricity grid of the state by 2015.

More information:

Sopogy in the Wave

January 18, 2010

Sopogy, Inc. (Sopogy), founded in 2002 and headquartered in Honolulu, specializes in the development, design, manufacture, and distribution of MicroCSP™ technology. Their award-winning solar collectors are used for power, steam/process heat, hybrid, desalination, refrigeration, and solar cooling. Sopogy is focused on expanding the middle market for MicroCSP™ in areas that conventional large-scale Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) is not viable. Their goal is to lower the cost of smaller-scale CSP in order to become competitive in areas with high utility costs.

Sopogy is the world’s first micro-concentrated solar power provider. The concept of scaled down Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) is what distinguishes MicroCSP™ from large scale CSP.  MicroCSP™ is intended to broaden the market for solar technology and applications for commercial, industrial, and utility use.

Concentrated Solar Power systems use lenses or mirrors and tracking systems to focus a large area of the sun’s heat into a small beam. The concentrated heat can then used as a heat source for a conventional power plant or any heat driven process like steam generation. Sopogy utilizes concentrated solar power in the form of a parabolic trough to create solar solutions that improve the quality of life and simplify the solar power business to efficiently address the 100kW-50MW gap that PV and large Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) companies cannot accommodate.

Sopogy’s highly differentiated approach to solar energy brings solar solutions to all energy users in a modular, rugged, concentrating solar thermal system.

Sopogy is uniquely positioned with scalable solutions to quickly produce power.

Sopogy invented a new way to take proven CSP systems and reduce the product size to be appropriate for Hawaii. This includes redesigning the space-frame so the collector can withstand Hawaii’s tropical storms and rains, changing the metals to survive the salty and volcanic atmosphere, and using local contractors to bring green-collar jobs to Hawaii while giving the systems reliability.

The company also developed a proprietary manufacturing and assembly process to make the deployment of solar thermal systems internationally inexpensive and more efficient.

“Sopogy has incorporated our unique frame, ready-to-assemble manufacturing, and automated controls into a new compact product designed for rooftop installation.  This brings concentrating solar power to the commercial and industrial facility in a cost effective, space efficient, and contractor friendly solution.  All combined, our customers receive the fastest paybacks available in solar, helping them save money and fight global warming,” said Darren T. Kimura, President and CEO, Sopogy, Inc. 

Sopogy’s key products are the SopoNova™, SopoFlare™, and SopoLite™. The SopoNova™ is a larger ground-mounted solar collector used to create electricity, or any of the other applications listed above. The SopoFlare™ is a smaller rooftop product designed for generating air conditioning or producing drinking water from seawater. SopoLite™ is a fully functional mobile lab unit used to gather data at any given location and evaluate a project site’s potential. Independent energy analysts have observed the MicroCSP™ market as being over a $20 billion dollar industry.

The actions of the company have not gone unnoticed.  Sopogy’s activities have been featured in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, LA Times, BBC, National Public Radio, and in China, Singapore, Spain, Australia and Japan.  Some of the headlines include: “Sopogy™’s MicroCSP™ technologies are the next CFL” and “If large solar farms are the mainframe, Sopogy is making the personal computer.”

Sopogy’s collector SopoNova™ was recognized by Plant Engineering as the 2008 Product of the Year Gold Award, a win over companies like Mercedes-Benz and Siemens. National Society of Professional Engineers awarded Sopogy’s SopoNova4.0TM New Product Award for 2008.

Recently, Sopogy introduced SopoFlare™ the newest MicroCSP™ product in the world of Concentrating Solar Power solutions at Solar Power International 2009 in Anaheim, the largest solar conference and expo in the U.S. SopoFlare™ is the first commercially available Concentrating Solar Power technology designed specifically for rooftop installations with a unique, easy mounting and fastening system. The system easily retrofits into existing facilities, reducing natural gas consumption, giving users an estimated 3-year payback on installation.

Locally, Sopogy has been integral in creating green jobs in Hawaii, encouraging the growth of the technology industry in our State, promoting economic diversification, and attracting foreign and mainland investors.  Sopogy’s homegrown Hawaiian technology will help us become independent from foreign oil.  We have the intelligence here in Hawaii to make us a beacon for the rest of the world when it comes to clean and green power.

Sopogy understands that the community is a part of our company growth and we have been working hard in giving back as volunteers in community service events.  In 2009 Sopogy supported the Aloha United Way, Ma’o Farms, Hawaii Humane Society, the Food Kitchen for Homeless, Keep America Beautiful clean-up, Alzheimer’s Association, and helped organize a toy drive for Institute for Human Services Women’s Shelter. In addition, company executives have donated over 50 hours to educate the public through educational outreach.

‘I’ll follow the sun’: Sopogy’s version of Google Maps to maximize sun’s energy

December 1, 2009




Alex Salkever

Dec 1st 2009

When Sopogy CEO Darren Kimura told me about his new portable power unit called SopoLite, I was intrigued. This 90-pound invention is a pint-sized version of the parabolic trough reflectors that Sopogy uses to collect solar thermal energy. From what I can tell, this is among the first instances of concentrated solar thermal power used as a portable power solution. Kimura, a cleantech exec I’ve known for a while, also told me the product could be used to desalinate water in disaster zones.

But the unit’s most interesting facet is its original purpose — collecting data on the solar power potential of wherever its located. Kimura plans to park these puppies all over the country and build out a map of the potential availability of thermal solar energy, or the energy derived from the sun’s heat. Such a map will make it much easier to determine the true thermal solar power potential of any given location without having to deploy sensors and testing gear.

This could prove to be a boon to the still nascent rooftop and commercial solar thermal power segment. Sopogy and another company, Chromasun, both have products in this area, which is expected to boom as more property owners and large chains roll out more comprehensive energy plans. Witness Chipotle Grill’s big rooftop photovoltaic announcement.

Solar thermal power is particularly promising for several reasons (that I also blogged about here). First, it is more efficient in terms of energy conversion than most photovoltaic power systems. This is mostly physics. Converting photons into electrons via a photovoltaic system is less efficient than converting heat into steam, a transition that requires very little intermediation other than a mirror. This steam drives a turbine-powered generator. Steam turbines are a very well known and well-developed technology.

Second, solar thermal power can also be used to provide what is called process heat. This can be either heat for industrial processes or hot water for industries such as laundries, chemical plants or food production facilities — all of which are huge consumers of energy.

Third, solar thermal can be used to power air conditioning units by making it easier for those units to condense liquids that evaporate as part of the cooling process. In the west, the fact that air conditioning kicks in on a mass scale in the afternoon is a prime contributor to brown-outs.

Figuring out how well solar thermal power works in any given location, however, is somewhat tricky. Micro-weather patterns are very important for solar thermal as clouds can really put a drag on thermal heat collection. Winds and thermal patterns can also reduce solar collection possibilities.

That’s where Kimura hopes to insert SopoLite, and in the process turn the unit (which can be towed behind a trailer) into a data-collection initiative similar in nature to those funny Google cars you see driving around with spinning cameras mounted on their roofs.

Granted, SopoLite needs to be parked for a while to grab proper solar data, so Kimura will not get Google-like coverage. But over time, SopoLite units parked in enough locations could make a major contribution by really giving solar project developers a good idea of what the Sun’s true thermal power is for a given area.

Kimura says the Department of Defense and Federal Emergency Management Agency are very interested in buying SopoLite units to use in disaster areas. SopoLite portable units can generate 2 kilowatts per hour of power. The military, in particular, is looking for ways to power up in remote locations without hauling in liquid fuels to run generators. It’s way too early to see whether this will take off, but it’s a fascinating idea in a small package.

Alex Salkever is Senior Writer at AOL Daily Finance covering technology and greentech. Follow him on twitter @alexsalkever, read his articles, or email him at

A123′s IPO Already Bringing Hope to Other Cleantech Startups

September 24, 2009

A123′s IPO Already Bringing Hope to Other Cleantech Startups

By Chris Morrison | Sep 24, 2009

Hours ahead of battery maker A123 Systems‘ initial public offering, optimism is already running high that the company will crack open a stagnant market and convince investors that they should also buy into other stock offerings.

A123 made an 11th-hour call yesterday to raise the price its opening price by 23 percent, to a range of $10 to $11.50. If the company gets traction it will bring in about $250 million. That’s not bad, for a firm that lost $40.7 million in the first half of the year. Its revenue was only slightly higher, at $42.9 million.

But A123 is well positioned. It started off selling batteries into the power tool market. That led to electric cars — which are not yet common on the road, by any means. The expectation is that electric vehicles will multiply rapidly in coming years; even if they don’t, A123 is also starting to make batteries for utilities, to store excess capacity from solar or wind power farms.

Battery technology also takes a long time to perfect, meaning newer competitors could take years to catch up to A123, offering some stability. So as startups go, it’s a good company to attract attention from the stock markets during a protracted downturn. The question is whether others can follow in A123’s footsteps.

I’d say “yes”, and here’s why: Investors seem to be wising up to what actually works in cleantech. When A123 first filed for an IPO last year, it was in a group of other renewable energy companies, including Imperium Renewables, a biodiesel maker. That company burned through a massive amount of cash very quickly, and is now in no position to have an IPO, or do much of anything else.

Ditto for dozens of other biofuel companies, including corn ethanol busts that did go public, like Verasun and Pacific Ethanol. But, as with the internet boom, all this simply meant that investors were still getting their bearings. It wasn’t yet evident which areas of cleantech would make for the best bets.

Now the picture is becoming clearer, and companies like A123 are offering growth prospects that are based on more than just hype.

There’s also a line of other companies that have met with some success, and are just waiting for the chance to go public. There are some obvious candidates here. Tesla Motors, the electric car maker, is working on its second model and would probably be thrilled to go public. Silver Spring Networks, a smart grid equipment maker, has inked dozens of deals, and will need cash to expand.

First Wind, a wind developer that filed around the same time last year as A123, is probably still waiting for its chance. And then there are the solar companies who have more or less proven their technology and already drawn in lots of private financing: Solyndra, Nanosolar, BrightSource and some smaller ones like Sopogy.

It takes a while to complete an IPO application, but chances are some of the above (and some not mentioned) are already hard at work. Others will probably join in once the results from A123 come back. Next year will be one to watch.

Original Story at: Bnet.Com