Sopogy Solution at Palo Alto Swim Club

September 17, 2008

Palo Alto, CA – To celebrate the Eichler Swim & Tennis Club’s 50 years of service to the Palo Alto community, Sopogy, Inc., the manufacturer of MicroCSP Solar Technologies has donated a MicroCSP solar solution to help reduce the center’s energy costs and shrink its carbon footprint by using clean solar energy.

“We’re making this donation to the Eichler Club and the children of Palo Alto who frequent this facility and represent the future so they can learn about solar energy and the power this energy source has in fighting climate change” said Darren T. Kimura the President of Sopogy, Inc.  “The Sopogy MicroCSP Solar Solution represents a truly versatile approach to the efficient and proven Concentrating Solar Power industry”.

The Sopogy’s Solar Solution consists of a MicroCSP solar concentrator called the SopoNovaä 4.0, which combines the revolutionary features of the company’s unique modular, versatile and scalable Parabolic Trough technology in a small and efficient solar package.  The system at the Eichler Club includes a SopoNova 4.0, heat exchanger, storage tank, automatic system controls and SopoTracker a revolutionary solar tracking technology which enables the system to follow the sun during operation.

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. Please visit www.sopogy.org for more information.

Sopogy Announces Solar Power Application 2008 Contest

September 1, 2008

Sopogy, Inc. launches “SopoApps 2008” a solar design skills contest for engineers
and announces a total of $50,000 in cash prizes.

Oct 4, 2008
SOPOGY PRESS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

Contact: Sopogy Corporate Communications

Email: media@sopogy.org

808-237-2324

Subject: Sopogy launches SopoApps 2008 a solar design skills contest for engineers and
announces total of $50,000 in cash prizes.

Portland, OR – Sopogy, Inc., in conjunction with winning the New Product of the Year
Award 2008 for its SopoNova 4.0 technology from the National Society of Professional
Engineers’ (NSPE) announces SopoApps 2008 a design skills contest for engineers.
“SopoApps 2008” or Solar Power Applications is a skills contest for HVAC, Plumbing and
Solar engineers. The contest challenges engineers to design practical installations using
MicroCSP solar technologies in 10 categories including: Process Heating, Thermal Air
Conditioning, Industrial, Commercial, Agriculture, Hospitality, Health Care Power, Water
and Innovation. The contest is designed to help accelerate the adoption and installation of
MicroCSP solar technologies. All designs submitted to the contest will be made opensourced
and posted online at SopoApps.com.

The contest runs through October 1, 2008. Judging will be conducted by an independent panel of industry experts. Key factors in judging include production efficiency, cost, completeness, and best overall design. A reception will be held at Solar Power 2008 in San Diego where the winners will be announced. Top winners in each of the 10 categories will receive $5,000.

“The World needs unique solutions to fight green house gas emissions and MicroCSP
technologies are one of the best weapons in this battle. The technology is reliable, quick to
install and a proven alternative to burning natural gas and oil. We now need the best
engineers to bring MicroCSP technologies to their applications and projects. SopoApps is
designed to do exactly this” said Darren T. Kimura, CEO of Sopogy, Inc.
For more information and details on the contest terms and conditions please visit
www.sopoapps.org

Additional Background on the SopoApps
In the solar thermal industry a key problem behind technology adoption is the lack of
available knowledge in applications engineering. This is an industry that has historically
been extremely fragmented and traditional engineering favors conventional fossil fuel
technologies. With global warming and energy issues now a worldwide problem,
SopoApps is designed to become a community for the World’s best engineers to help build
the future of Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning.

Sopogy elects T. Michael May to its Board of Directors

August 21, 2008

T. MICHAEL MAY JOINS SOPOGY’S BOARD OF DIRECTORS

August 20, 2008

SOPOGY PRESS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Date: 8/20/08

Contact: Sopogy Corporate Communications

Email: media@sopogy.org

808-237-2324

Subject: Sopogy elects T. Michael May to its Board of Directors

HONOLULU, Hawaii—Sopogy® today announced that T. Michael May, recently retired President and Chief Executive Officer of Hawaiian Electric Company (NYSE: HE) was elected to Sopogy’s board of directors. Michael also serves on the board of directors of the Electric Power Research Institute, the Edison Electric Institute and The James Campbell Company.

“Michael spent over a decade as CEO of Hawaii’s top company in Hawaiian Electric.  There he led the public utility through change and growth.  He also developed a deep network in the energy industry and we look forward to benefiting from his insights and experience as a member of Sopogy’s board” said Darren T. Kimura, CEO of Sopogy.

“Sopogy is establishing its position as a leader in the Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) industry.  Their MicroCSP technology is clearly one of the most innovative products in the market today.  Sopogy is bringing renewable on-site generation to the distributed generation markets” said T. Michael May, recently retired President and Chief Executive Officer of Hawaiian Electric Company.   “I feel privileged to join this exciting and dynamic team and believe I can make a positive and immediate contribution to help Sopogy in this next phase of growth.”

Hawaiian Electric Inc, and subsidiaries Maui Electric Company, Limited and Hawaii Electric Light, Inc., supplies power to 93% of Hawaii’s public utility market.   At Hawaiian Electric, Michael was responsible for developing and executing the company’s long-term growth strategies, leading the company to encourage renewable energy and energy efficiency.  He joined Hawaiian Electric as a Senior Vice President in 1992 and was elected President and CEO in 1995, he retired on August 1, 2008.  Prior to Joining Hawaiian Electric he was the founder and Principal of Management Assets Group, President of Caterpillar Capital Company and held the roles of Vice President and General Manager of the Energy Services Division at Solar Turbines Inc a Caterpillar Company and Vice President Finance and Planning, Chief Financial Officer at Solar Turbines, Inc. Caterpillar, Inc.

Michael is a graduate of the University of Mississippi in Industrial Engineering/Management and received his Masters of Business Administration in Finance from the College of William & Mary.

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 goals include to create solar solutions that improve the quality of life for all human kind and to bring order and simplicity to the chaos which is the current solar power business.  Please visit www.sopogy.org for more information.

Sopogy wins New Product of the Year from National Society of Professional Engineers

July 26, 2008

Sopogy, Inc. wins “New Product of the Year” from the National Society of Professional Engineers

National Society of Professional Engineers New Product Award

July 26, 2008

SOPOGY PRESS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Date: 7/26/08

Contact: Sopogy Corporate Communications

Email: media@sopogy.org

808-237-2324

Subject: Sopogy wins New Product of the Year award from the National Society of Professional Engineers.

Portland, OR – Sopogy, Inc., wins the National Society of Professional Engineers’ (NSPE) New Product of the Year Award for its MicroCSP Solar Collector “SopoNova 4.0” at the NSPE’s Annual Conference this year held in Portland, Oregon.

The NSPE New Product of the Year Awards look for new and improved products that stimulate the life and growth of our country. These benefits result from research and development to which engineers make their unique contribution. This competition recognizes the results of those efforts and the foresight of the companies whose aggressive policies bring new products to the marketplace.

“SopoNova 4.0 combines the reliable performance of conventional Concentrating Parabolic Trough technologies with several novel concepts that include the World’s first integrated 270 degree MicroCSP tracker, integrated stands and custom controls” said Darren T. Kimura, CEO of Sopogy.  He continued “after 40+ unique prototypes and thousands of engineering hours invested in the SopoNova product line, this award from one of the Nation’s most respected engineering societies is tribute to Sopogy’s spirit of innovation”.

Sopogy is the first renewable energy and solar technology to ever be awarded this honor.  Previous winners of NSPE’s New Product of the Year include Boeing’s 777, Mercedes Benz M-Class All Activity Vehicle and Chrysler’s PT Cruiser.

About the National Society of Professional Engineers
Founded in 1934 NSPE is one of the nations oldest and most respected engineering associations with over 54,000 members and the public through more than 500 chapters and 53 state and territorial societies.

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 goals include to create solar solutions that improve the quality of life for all human kind and to bring order and simplicity to the chaos which is the current solar power business.  Please visit www.sopogy.org for more information.

Giant solar thermal farms are mainframe computers, Sopogy is the personal computer

July 15, 2008

Sopogy thinks small to make megawatts of solar power

Posted by Martin LaMonica

If giant solar thermal power plants spread across the desert are like a mainframe, Sopogy is making the equivalent of a personal computer.

The Hawaii-based company on Tuesday at the Intersolar 2008 conference will show off the latest version of its MicroCSP–essentially a shrunk-down version of concentrating solar power (CSP) equipment used in power plants.

The SopaNova 4.0, a “micro concentrated solar power” trough, has been redesigned to be longer and use less material.

It’s a trough with a reflective coating that focuses sunlight onto a pipe that carries an oil. That heated liquid goes through an organic Rankine cycle engine to convert it into electricity.
The conventional thinking in solar these days is to think big. Proposals for concentrating solar power plants call for hundreds of rows of troughs or mirrors to make steam to drive an electricity turbine. The output of these proposed plants will be hundreds of megawatts, approaching the size of traditional power plants.
Sopogy’s product, called SopaNova 4.0, is aimed at utilities as well, but for smaller-scale projects, in the range of 250 kilowatts to 25 megawatts. The latest edition is longer–between 12 feet and 18 feet long–than previous editions because of a new manufacturing process.
“On cost per watt, we’re cheaper than PV (photovoltaics),” said CEO Darren Kimura. “But that’s not what really matters. We can do more production. We actually get more sun energy every day.”
With a higher output, the payback on an initial investment comes quicker, he argued. The troughs can be used by corporate customers as well for on-site power generation.
In terms of the efficiency of converting sunlight to electricity, the SopaNova is between 20 percent and 30 percent, he said. That’s lower than its larger CSP cousins, which operate at higher temperatures, but better than most solar photovoltaic cells.
Unlike flat solar photovoltaic panels, solar thermal systems have storage today. In practice, Sopogy’s trough systems can store a few hours worth of electricity, which can be used when electricity is more expensive or when there isn’t light.
Sopogy is thinking relatively small when it comes to its own capital needs.
The company raised $9 million in venture funding earlier this year and got a $35 million special-purpose bond from the state of Hawaii.
Later this year, Sopogy will look to raise another round of equity, which will be more than its past round but far less than the huge deals–some topping $100 million–announced by traditional CSP companies.
“We’re trying to demonstrate that you can do solar technology but still be capex (capital expenditure)-light,” Kimura said.
Ultimately, the company intends to go public. “The goal in solar is to become a really big company and the market space allows for that. If you don’t, you’ll get acquired,” Kimura said.
The company has about 20 customers now. The Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii recently broke ground on a project to install thousands of the troughs to ultimately make one megawatt of electricity.
The troughs can also be used to generate process heat, which can be used in a variety of applications, Kimura said.

Dr. Al Yuen at InterSolar North America

July 14, 2008

Renewable Energy World - Sopogy

“Since 2002, Sopogy has been inventing, testing and validating our unique MicroCSP technologies. SopoNova 4 marks our 40th version of technology improvement. We’ve learned many valuable lessons through our six years of research and development and incorporated those lessons into our most efficient and lowest cost product yet. In SopoNova 4 we’ve incorporated form and function with a visually appealing yet robust and cost effective concentrating solar collector,” said Darren Kimura, president and CEO of Sopogy.

The Sopogy MicroCSP solar collector system is concentrating panel that was modeled after the successful installation of concentrating panels in the Mojave Desert in the mid 1980’s. The product design includes modularity, customized tracking, efficient shipping, storm protection, and automatic operation. The heat generated by the concentrator can be used to power turbines to create electricity or used directly for industrial process heating and solar cooling. The technology captures cost efficiencies by operating in lower temperatures which enable general contractor installation, low cost thermal energy storage and is facility safe.

To see Al Yuen PhD, director of corporate development for Sopogy discuss the product launch and the company’s business, play the video below.

Hawaii based Sopogy, Inc. breaks ground on the world’s first MicroCSP solar farm

July 11, 2008

July 9, 2008

SOPOGY PRESS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Date: 7/7/08

Contact: Sopogy Corporate Communications

Email: media@sopogy.org

808-237-2324

Subject: SOPOGY BREAKS GROUND ON WORLDS FIRST MICROCSP SOLAR FARM AT THE NATURAL ENERGY LABORATORY OF HAWAII.

Honolulu, HI – Keahole Solar Power, a Concentrated Solar Power solar farm, breaks ground Wednesday July 9, 2008 at 10:30 a.m. with an event hosted by Sopogy, Inc. on the Big Island at the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii.  The solar farm will be built in phases over several acres and is the first of its kind in the world to make large-scale use of Hawaii based Sopogy’s proprietary solar concentrating systems known as MicroCSP technologies.

MicroCSP systems use reflectors and optics that harness the energy from the sun to create heat that passes through a turbine to produce electricity.  The Sopogy MicroCSP solar collector system is a robust and elegant concentrating panel that was modeled after the very successful installation of concentrating panels in the Mojave Desert in the mid 1980’s.  These traditional panels at the Solar Energy Generating Station have been producing 354 megawatts energy for over 2 decades, enough power for the Big Island and Maui.  “MicroCSP technologies combine the efficiencies of traditional Concentrated Solar Power collectors but incorporate new key elements that are required for operation in Hawaii.  These elements include a stronger more durable frame that is able to withstand against storms and operating temperatures that enable Hawaii’s contractors to install and service the system,” said Darren T. Kimura the President and CEO of Sopogy.

“Our leading edge MicroCSP solar research began in Kona in 2002 with one concentrating system and it is appropriate that Kona is the home for the world’s first deployment of a MicroCSP solar field,” Kimura said.   “Our technologies create energy from the sun, a sustainable and renewable energy resource and will help Hawaii break its bonds to imported fossil fuel.”

“This is the first renewable energy project at the Natural Energy Laboratory in over 30 years” stated representatives from NELHA.

Selected dignitaries including former Governor George Ariyoshi, Sopogy, Inc. Chairman of the Board of Directors and Founder, Darren T. Kimura, Representative Jon Riki Karamatsu and others will be on hand to participate in the highly anticipated ground breaking ceremony.  Once the first Phase is completed, Keahole Solar Power will produce electricity for over 100 Hawaii homes.  In its entirety, the project can scale up to a 1 megawatt solar farm capable of powering 500 Hawaii homes and off setting over 2 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions, the equivalent of removing 367 cars from Hawaii roads.

The blessing will be done by Sopogy’s Hawaiian Kahu and event will be powered by renewable solar energy and the greenhouse gas emissions from the travel, preparation, set-up and all festivities will be offset with green certificates.

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. Please visit www.sopogy.org for more information.

Wall Street Journal “Hawaii the Alternative State”

June 30, 2008

Wall Street Journal features Sopogy

Hawaii has become an incubator for all sorts of renewable-energy projects

By JIM CARLTON
June 30, 2008; Page R12
HONOLULU — A state better known for sun and fun is quietly morphing into one of the world’s leading incubators of alternative energy.

Royal Dutch Shell PLC is heading up a test venture in Hawaii to turn oil-rich algae into fuel. If the process is found commercially viable, the Anglo-Dutch conglomerate could build algae-processing plants elsewhere.

Ever-Green Energy LLC of St. Paul, Minn., plans to build a plant in Honolulu that uses seawater to cool office buildings; if successful, the project will be expanded to other states. A start-up company, meanwhile, is deploying miniature solar-thermal collectors on Oahu to help generate more power for the local electricity grid. This set-up, too, if successful, will be reproduced elsewhere.

The reason for all the interest: location, location, location.

“Hawaii is the only place in the world where you have access to every form of renewable energy, and you are on the dollar and the U.S. legal system,” says Joelle Simonpietri, a former venture capitalist who now heads an algae-to-fuel firm called Kuehnle AgroSystems Inc.

Hawaii is trying to convert to clean energy as fast as it can. Petroleum imports make up about 80% of the energy supply for Hawaii’s main utility, leaving the state among those hardest hit by the run-up in oil prices. Electricity rates have gone through the roof. The average residential rate on Oahu, where most of Hawaii’s 1.2 million residents live, had doubled to 25.50 cents a kilowatt hour — the highest in the U.S. — from 12.74 cents in 1999, according to Hawaiian Electric Co., the state’s major utility.

So, in January, Gov. Linda Lingle announced plans under a state-federal partnership for Hawaii to derive 70% of its energy from renewable sources by 2030 — one of the most ambitious targets in the world.

The state has gotten a head start toward this goal in some places. On Maui, for example, wind farms power 11,000 homes, or about 10% of that island’s energy, while on the Big Island, which is Hawaii itself, geothermal power from volcanic vents accounts for about a fifth of the energy there.

And on Oahu, Hawaiian Electric is building a new power plant that will generate 110 megawatts — enough power for about 30,000 homes — and will run completely on biodiesel fuel. The $160 million plant, expected to open next year, will initially get its fuel from imported palm oil.

“Everything is possible as oil prices rise,” says Henry Montgomery, chief executive of MontPac Outsourcing, a finance and accounting consultancy in Honolulu.

Not all the technologies are problem free. Environmentalists want to make sure, for example, that Hawaiian Electric doesn’t import any of its palm oil from endangered rainforests in Asia. Utility officials say that their palm oil will come from sustainable sources, and that over time the plant will rely more on crops grown in Hawaii.

There’s also a question of whether the sources of energy can overcome technical hurdles, among other challenges.

Gov. Lingle, for her part, says Hawaii is counting on a multitude of the clean-energy technologies to succeed — not any particular one. “If our experience with petroleum has taught us anything, it is not to get reliant on any one source of energy,” the governor said in a recent interview at her state capital office, where, moments earlier, the power went down due to a temporary malfunction.

Here is a sampling of what’s going on in Hawaii:

SOLAR

One of Hawaii’s most abundant resources is its sunshine. But like many places, solar power used to cost so much more than conventional power it largely wasn’t economical — until oil prices got so high.

Now, several solar companies in Hawaii are trying to cash in on the boom in clean-energy demand. Hoku Scientific Inc. until last year specialized in making fuel cells. Now the Honolulu company makes silicon for photovoltaic solar cells at a factory in Idaho, while in Hawaii it installs solar panels for mostly corporate customers including the Bank of Hawaii and Hawaiian Electric. “Obviously, with the high electric rates, Hawaii is a great place to sell alternative energy,” says Darryl Nakamoto, Hoku’s chief financial officer.

Another company, Sopogy Inc., is augmenting local power with solar-thermal energy, a technology that uses mirrors and lenses to concentrate the sun’s rays on fluids, creating steam that turns turbines to generate electricity. Spun off last year from a technology company called Energy Industries, Sopogy has created a miniature version of the giant solar collectors found in places like the California desert. “Micro” collectors weigh about 100 pounds, measure 12 feet by five feet, and can be deployed on building rooftops, Sopogy officials say. Also, unlike many technologies that tap the sun, Sopogy has designed its system so it can store solar energy, the company says.

Last year, Sopogy got $10 million in state revenue bonds to set up a one-megawatt demonstration farm on Hawaii. In May, the state Legislature approved $35 million in bonds to help Sopogy build a solar plant on Oahu that will generate 10 megawatts, or enough power for about 3,000 homes, for Hawaiian Electric. Privately held Sopogy has raised more than $10 million in other money as well, including from Kolohala Ventures, a Honolulu venture-capital firm.

If successful, Sopogy hopes to expand its micro solar plants around the world. “We want to see our revenues at $1 billion in five years,” says Darren Kimura, president and chief executive of Sopogy, and founder of Energy Industries.

ALGAE

One of the holy grails in alternative energy is a system that can extrude oil from algae on a grand, and economical, scale. Scientists say oil represents as much as half the body weight of algae, compared with about 20% for corn, one of the most widely used biofuel crops. Algae also grows as much as 10 times faster than corn, and can be processed for oil without disrupting food supplies.

RENEWABLE SOURCES A seawater cooling project for downtown Honolulu would be similar to an Enwave Energy project in Toronto (top left); Ormat Technologies’ geothermal plant in Puna (top right); Darren Kimura, president and CEO of Sopogy, a solar-thermal energy firm; and a diagram of a deep-water cooling system.
However, the technical challenges have proven large in the past. For example, studies have shown algae strains that can produce the most energy often need to be starved of nutrients, which stunts their growth. Indeed, some previous efforts in the U.S. and Japan over the past 30 years have been dropped, in part, because costs were exorbitant.

But now that oil is so high, several companies are turning to algae again. One of the more closely watched is Cellana, a Shell-led venture with a University of Hawaii spin-off, HR Biopetroleum. The companies announced in November 2007 that the venture would build a pilot facility on the Big Island’s Kona coast. Since then, researchers have been busy planting various strains of algae in test tubes that sit in the warm sea water on the Kona coast. One of the tasks facing them is to find algae that both contains the highest amounts of oil and can grow in warm water. “We’re in the process of whittling down the top super bugs from hundreds to 10,” says Susan Brown, a University of Hawaii researcher who collects specimens for the project on scuba dives around local waters.

SEAWATER

One of the simplest clean-energy concepts is to take cool water from the ocean or a lake and use it to help air-condition buildings in nearby cities. The technique has been used in places like Amsterdam and Toronto, with significant power savings.

But piping water to where it needs to go requires more capital investment than many places were willing to make when oil was cheaper. Until recent years, there were also limitations on how deep pipes could be put to suck up the colder water.

In 2003, David Rezachek — a former manager of Hawaii’s alternative energy program — held a workshop in Honolulu to revive local interest in seawater air-conditioning. Even then, Hawaii’s electric rates were the highest in the country. “I said, ‘It’s time to quit talking about it, let’s do this thing,’” Mr. Rezachek recalls.

He helped get Ever-Green Energy — then called Market Street Energy — to set up a subsidiary called Honolulu Seawater Air Conditioning. The company invested about $3.5 million in the venture, while $10.8 million has been raised from mainland and Hawaiian investors, including Kolohala Ventures, says Mr. Rezachek, associate development director for Honolulu Seawater. The state Legislature has also authorized $100 million in tax-exempt revenue bonds for a seawater cooling project.

The venture proposed in late 2003 a seawater cooling project be built for downtown Honolulu. Although ocean temperatures on the beaches around Oahu hover in the mid 70s, they drop to 45 degrees at 1,600 feet deep a few miles offshore. So Honolulu Seawater proposed to run a pipe from 1,600 feet deep to a cooling plant onshore, four miles away. The cold seawater would pass through a heat exchanger where it would cool fresh water from separate pipes used to chill nearby office towers downtown.

Designed to cool 12.5 million square feet of office space — or the equivalent of almost five Empire State Buildings — the Honolulu system is projected to save as much as 15 megawatts of conventional power, while at the same time cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 84,000 tons a year. The venture expects to secure permitting by early next year, and be in operation in 2010 at a cost of about $165 million.

GEOTHERMAL

Few places in the world have as much geothermal energy potential as Hawaii’s Big Island, where the Kilauea volcano has been erupting since 1983. As long ago as 1881, Hawaiian King David Kalakaua met with inventor Thomas Edison to discuss harnessing the power of Hawaii’s volcanoes.

In the 1970s, a public-private partnership dug the first geothermal well in Puna on the windy east side of the island. Over time, enough hot water and steam was taken out of the ground to fuel a 30-megawatt power plant. The plant, owned by Reno, Nev.-based Ormat Technologies Inc., provides power to about 10,000 homes, or 18% of the Big Island’s total supply, according to Hawaiian Electric.

Conceivably, the Kilauea volcano could provide enough power to meet all of Hawaii’s needs, state utility officials say. But there are several limitations. One is the Big Island’s isolation from the other Hawaiian islands. For example, the ocean is so deep between it and the next closest island, Maui, that officials in the state abandoned a past plan to try and lay an underwater cable between the islands to transfer the geothermal energy.

Another issue: opposition to significant expansion of geothermal by some native Hawaiians, on grounds the volcano is sacred, says Robert Alm, a spokesman for Hawaiian Electric.

–Mr. Carlton is a staff reporter in the San Francisco bureau of The Wall Street Journal.

Write to Jim Carlton at jim.carlton@wsj.com

Governor of the State of Hawaii approves $35 million for Sopogy

May 31, 2008

SOPOGY PRESS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Date: 5/23/08
Subject: GOVERNOR OF THE STATE OF HAWAII SIGNS LAW APPROVING SOPOGY, INC. $35,000,000 FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF RENEWABLE ENERGY

Contact: Darren T. Kimura, CEO
Tel: (808) 833-4747
Email: dkimura@sopogy.org

Honolulu, HI – Governor of the State of Hawaii Linda Lingle today signed a bill into law that authorizes the issuance of $35,000,000 in special purpose revenue bonds to assist Sopogy, Inc. in the development of renewable energy on the Island of Oahu.

“Due to low energy cost and the high cost of construction, renewable energy has struggled to get traction on the island of O’ahu,” Said Darren T. Kimura President and CEO of Sopogy, Inc. “These special purpose revenue bonds are a critical enabler in bringing clean solar power energy to the residents.”

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. Please visit www.sopogy.org for more information.

Download file from Governors Office

Sopogy Scores Funding from Founder of eBay, Cargill and Tetris

May 31, 2008

Earth 2 Tech

Written by Katie Fehrenbacher

The small-scale solar thermal startup Sopogy that we reported was in the process of raising a $9 million round last October, has closed that round from investors including the investment vehicle of eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, Ohana Holdings. The folks at New Energy Finance reported the news, and after digging through regulatory filings, Nathaniel Bullard, senior analyst at New Energy Finance reported that the $9.1 million round also included local investors Bethel Tech Holdings, Energy Industries Holdings, Kolohala Holdings, Black River Asset Management a wholly owned subsidiary of Cargill and Tetris video game entrepreneur Henk Rogers.

Well, Google and former dotcom entrepreneur Bill Gross have been busy investing in solar thermal power plants, so why not eBay’s founder? (Perhaps we should add him to our list of 25 Who Ditched Infotech for Cleantech). And former eBay President Jeff Skoll has invested in thin-film solar startup Nanosolar. New Energy Finance notes that Omidyar’s Ohana Holdings has actively been investing in Hawaii as of late, and Bullard tells us that Ohana also previously invested in biodiesel company US BioDiesel Group.

Sopogy has strong roots in the state. Most of its investors are local, and in May Sopogy said the state legislature had approved up to $35 million in special purpose revenue bonds for Sopogy to build and operate a solar plant locally. As of October Sopogy CEO Darren Kimura told us the company is working on getting a 1-megawatt solar system up and running. Kimura also said that Hawaii’s “highest electricity rates in the U.S.” give its technologies “a competitive marketplace to develop and mature.”

The Honolulu-based five-year-old company Sopogy makes small scale solar thermal systems, which are condensed versions of the set-ups that use mirrors and lenses to heat liquid and turn that into power. Ausra, BrightSource, Solel and eSolar are just a few of the startups that have emerged to building large-scale systems on a lot of land and plan that power to utilities.

Sopogy, on the other hand, says its technology can be used where space is limited, even on rooftops, and delivers on a scale in the single megawatts. Each individual collector can produce 500 watts, and the collectors can be strung together for more wattage.

Kimura told VentureBeat last week that Sopogy has gotten enough interest that the company is eying an IPO in the not-too-distant future.

Sopogy Receives $35 Million Dollar Approval by State of Hawaii

May 3, 2008

Renewable energy could get boost

The Legislature has approved up to $35 million in special purpose revenue bonds for local renewable energy technology firm Sopogy Inc.

The measure goes to the governor for final approval.

If approved, the bonds are expected to be used by Sopogy to develop a 10-megawatt solar farm plant on O’ahu. Honolulu-based Sopogy, which is headed by Darren Kimura, specializes in the development, manufacture and distribution of solar-powered systems.

Kimura applauded the Legislature and governor for taking the step to increase solar power production.

“Due to low energy cost and the high cost of construction, renewable energy has struggled to get traction on the island of O’ahu,” Kimura said. “These special purpose revenue bonds are a critical enabler in bringing clean solar power energy to the residents.”

The bill was introduced by Rep. Jon Riki Karamatsu, D-41st (Waipahu, Village Park, Waikele) and Sen. Ron Menor, D-17th (Mililani, Waipi’o).

Sopogy Names Tal Ziv Director of Energy Economics

April 15, 2008

PRESS RELEASE: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Date: 4/14/08
Subject: Sopogy names Tal Ziv Director of Energy Economics
Contact: Sher Komoda, Communications
Tel: (808) 833-4747
Email: skomoda@sopogy.org

Sopogy names Tal Ziv Director of Energy Economics

Honolulu, HI – Sopogy, Inc. manufacturer of MicroCSP™ solar technologies announced the appointment of Tal Ziv as Director of Energy Economics. Based in the company’s Honolulu, Hawaii office, Ziv will oversee the leads in the project finance, structuring, financial analysis, and forecasting for Sopogy.

Prior to joining Sopogy, Tal was the Manager of Corporate Development and Planning at Alexander & Baldwin (NASDAQ: ALEX). Previously, Tal served as Business Development Manager, Global Business Development for GE Energy (NYSE: GE) GE’s largest industrial business with $22 billion of revenues in 2007. As manager for the business development/mergers and acquisition activities at GE Energy, Tal’s responsibilities included originating, executing and integrating inorganic growth initiatives. During his tenure at GE Energy a couple of the high profile transactions include the multi-billion dollar global alliance between the nuclear energy businesses of GE Energy and Hitachi, Ltd. and the acquisition of specialized pumping equipment for the gasification technology acquired from ChevronTexaco. Additionally, Tal led several strategic divestitures including the sale of GE Energy Rentals to Aggreko plc. Tal began his career as a Captain in the U.S. Air Force and was a command briefer for the Pacific Air Forces Headquarters.

Tal earned an MBA from the Shilder College of Business at the University of Hawaii, and holds a M.S from Texas A&M University, and a BS in Cornell University.

About Sopogy
Sopogy manufactures the innovative MicroCSP™ solar concentrator technology. MicroCSP™ uses optics and mirrors to focus and intensify the energy of the sun for electricity production, solar air conditioning and process heating. The technology uses traditional economics from large solar energy deployments to the industrial, commercial and utility sectors in a smaller more cost effective and robust package. Please visit www.sopogy.org for more information.

Sopogy CEO to speak at 2008 Business, Technology and Innovation Conference

April 10, 2008

Darren Kimura began his energy career in 1992 as a EPA Green Lights Surveyor and founded national energy company “Energy Industries” in 1994 where he expanded the company internationally and led the acquisition of the Quantum Companies. He has been recognized as the Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year in 2000, SBA Young Entrepreneur of the Year for Hawaii, California, Nevada, and Arizona in 2002, Green Entrepreneur of the Year in 2007 and has been recognized by the EPA as an “Energy Pioneer.”

As a recognized expert in energy efficiency and renewable energy, he has served as a speaker for the US Department of Energy, Hawaiian Electric Company, the US Environmental Protection Agency, and for numerous Country, State and County Energy Offices. He is a Co-Chairperson of the Hawaii Energy Policy Forum, serves on the Advisory committees for DBEDT’s Energy Management, Hawaiian Electric IRP’s, Member of the Governor’s Innovation Council, Director HSDC, and President of PLASMA, the nation’s largest energy association. Mr. Kimura has a BA from the University of Hawaii. He is a Certified Energy Manager, Certified Demand Side Manager, Certified Cogeneration Professional, and Certified Sustainable Development Professional.

Emerging Solor Technologies

With energy usage at record setting levels and global warming increasing, Solar Energy has emerged in innovation and investment. This session will discuss several different solar energy technologies and the future of the market.

Download Brochure Here

Proposal would open state ag lands to solar farms

April 4, 2008

Pacific Business News (Honolulu) by Nanea Kalani

Hawaii could see a surge of new solar energy farms under a proposed measure that would open up thousands of acres of state agricultural-zoned land for such facilities.

House Bill 2502 would permit solar energy facilities on state agricultural land that is unsuited for either farming or livestock grazing. Wind farms and the growing of crops for biofuel already are allowed on such land.

The measure, introduced by state Rep. Hermina Morita, D-Kapaa-Hanalei, has gained strong support from solar energy firms and private land developers because it would reduce the number of land-use permits needed from county agencies for building and operating solar farms.

Industrial-size Facilities

Solar facilities can include large-scale photovoltaics, which directly convert sunlight into electricity, or solar collectors, which transfer heat energy to electric power and also can store the energy for use during nondaylight hours.

Unlike smaller residential systems, these types of projects typically sit on land ranging in size from one acre to thousands of acres. The generated power can be sold to a utility or used to power buildings and homes.

The bill, which passed through the Senate Agriculture and Hawaiian Affairs Committee last week, specifies lands with D or E soil productivity ratings. Approximately 70 percent of the state’s 1.3 million acres of farmlands — about 910,000 acres — have these soil classifications.

Honolulu solar technology firm Sopogy Inc. testified in support of the measure and sees potential for expanding its solar projects.

“This would open a new market for solar farming in Hawaii, where a lot of the abandoned sugar cane lands could be used for solar farms,” said Sopogy President Darren Kimura. “We would definitely be looking at these lands as we try to bring as much solar-generated power to Hawaii as possible.”

Sopogy has a 1-megawatt solar farm at the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority on the Big Island, as well as a 50-kilowatt plant in Idaho. Both farms use Sopogy’s proprietary solar collectors, which concentrate the sun’s power to heat mineral oil, which is then run through a turbine to generate electricity.

On Oahu, the company plans to build a 50-acre, 10-megawatt solar farm that could generate enough electricity to power about 30,000 homes. The company has not revealed the site for the planned project, but says it expects the systems to be operational by late next year.

Meanwhile, on Maui, developer Dowling Co. expects the passing of HB 2502 will help speed its efforts to build a 40-50-acre solar farm on the Makena property it bought last year, which includes the Maui Prince Hotel and two golf courses.

“We have set the very ambitious goal of developing a net-zero-energy community,” Jennifer Stites, Dowling Co.’s green development manager, wrote in supporting testimony.

Stites said the proposed solar farm would be on land with E-classified soil.

“They are not suitable for the cultivation of crops and, because of the limited acreage, they are not suitable for grazing or pasture lands,” Stites wrote. “If we do not use this land for a solar farm, it will remain barren and unproductive.”

Developer Castle & Cooke Hawaii also wants to use 10 acres of agricultural lands on Lanai for a 1.5-megawatt solar farm, saying the bill’s passage is “essential to our efforts.”

“Castle & Cooke’s proposed solar energy facility will be placed on land that has been fallow for more than 20 years,” wrote Tim Hill, an executive vice president and head of the company’s renewable energy programs on Lanai. “[The] facilities will not displace any farmers or create a competitive situation for natural resources.”

Competition for ranchers

The Maui County Farm Bureau expressed some concern about the legislation, noting potential competition for the lands from solar facility operators.

“These nonagricultural uses are able to pass on their costs to customers [so] they will be willing to pay a higher price for the lands than farmers or ranchers,” wrote Warren Watanabe, the organization’s executive director.

Morita thinks the best scenario would be one where the renewable energy facility is secondary to agricultural activities.

“By still having the land available for agricultural use, it could benefit the farmers by giving them revenues from leasing their land for renewable energy uses,” she said.

The state Department of Agriculture shares a similar view and has asked lawmakers to consider adding to the bill: “Where solar energy facility is compatible with agricultural uses and activities on the parcel and adjacent parcels.”

Supporters of the bill say the way solar farms are configured often allows for livestock grazing and low-rising crop production.

nkalani@bizjournals.com | 955-8001

Sopogy names Van Matsushige Market Manager of the Pacific Region

April 1, 2008

PRESS RELEASE: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Date: 4/1/08
Subject: Sopogy names Van Matsushige Market Manager of the Pacific Region
Contact: Jane Dore, Communications
Tel: (408) 722-6292
Email: jdore@sopogy.org

Sopogy names Van Matsushige Market Manager of the Pacific Region

Honolulu, HI – Sopogy, Inc. manufacturer of MicroCSP™ solar technologies announced the appointment of Van Matsushige as Market Manager of the Pacific Region. Based in the company’s Honolulu, Hawaii office, Matsushige will oversee the Pacific Region which includes Hawaii, Oceania and Asia. In his role he will be responsible for marketing, policy, sales and strategic planning. He will report directly to Vice President of Business Development Jim Maskrey.

Most recently Matsushige served as General Manager and Director of Operations at national energy services company Energy Industries (www.energy-industries.com). Prior to EI he spent 10 years in Hong Kong working for various corporations including the Executive Center Limited.

Matsushige earned his B.S. from the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

About Sopogy
Sopogy manufactures the innovative MicroCSP™ solar concentrator technology. MicroCSP™ uses optics and mirrors to focus and intensify the energy of the sun for electricity production, solar air conditioning and process heating. The technology uses traditional economics from large solar energy deployments to the industrial, commercial and utility sectors in a smaller more cost effective and robust package. Please visit www.sopogy.org for more information.

Here comes the Sun: MicroCSP technologies

March 25, 2008

Rivers International and Sopogy

Here Comes the Sun: Taking Solar Power to Grid-Scale

March 25, 2008

by Lori Pottinger

What renewable energy source is highly reliable and predictable, especially productive during the hours of highest electricity use, can be scaled small enough to power one building or big enough to electrify a town, is a proven technology whose costs keep dropping, creates more jobs than gas or coal, and could, with a major rollout, displace 2-3 billion tons of carbon annually worldwide?

The answer is concentrating solar power, which uses mirrors and the power of the sun to run steam turbines. Unlike some other energy innovations being put forth today – “clean coal,” for example – there’s no “smoke and mirrors” trickery about it. Just mirrors. Lots and lots of mirrors.

This exciting renewable energy technology has been working reliably in California since the 1980s, when oil was cheap and climate change was for wonks. Today, the political and economic conditions that prevented a major rollout of the technology are, pardon the pun, almost a mirror image of the situation in the 1980s. Today, every indication is that concentrating solar power (CSP) is on the cusp of a renaissance, thanks to increased investments in R&D, tariff support for CSP plants’ electricity in Spain, and a growing realization among governments and financiers that the world needs to build renewable energy sources now.

A surge of development in Spain and the US West is well underway. Two new plants producing 65 megawatts of electricity have been built in the US (adding to California’s 355 MW of existing CSP), while Spain has completed 10 MW, has 50 more projects in the pipeline, and intends to develop 500 MW by 2010. The goal of the US National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) is to help develop up to 4,000 megawatts of CSP in the southwestern US by 2015. “This penetration level is aggressive, but possible if the 30% investment tax credit is extended per the primary recommendation of the task force,” says George Douglas, an NREL spokesman.

Elsewhere, plants are planned or being built in Egypt, South Africa, Australia, Libya, Algeria, India, Israel and Morocco. And if a Jordanian prince has his way, tens of thousands of megawatts would be generated in the Sahara for sale to Europe. Renewable Energy World forecasts 6,400 MW installed globally by 2015, leaping to 36,850 MW by 2025. By then, they project an annual installation rate of 4,600 MW/year.

“After over a decade of inaction, CSP is finally taking off,” says Sven Teske with Greenpeace’s Energy [R]evolution Campaign. “For 2040, CSP has a chance to contribute to the global electricity supply in a double digit range. The main reason for this is good policy. In the USA there are Renewable Portfolio Standards in place, in Spain there are guaranteed tariffs.”

How it Works

CSP uses sun-tracking mirrors to concentrate solar heat onto liquid-filled tubes or central tower. The liquid is vaporized into steam, which is used to drive turbines to generate electricity. CSP plants act much more like conventional power plants than solar PV or wind farms, which make them more attractive to utilities. There are a variety of types of plants being tested and built, with different advantages to each. Because they are fairly simple to design and build, the plants go up quickly. A new CSP plant near Las Vegas, Nevada took about one year to build. (Permitting and land-use acquisitions add to the process, however.)

CSP still has obstacles to overcome. Most importantly to utilities is its still-high cost. While concentrated solar power is now less expensive than solar PV panels, it is still generally around 15-20 cents/kwh, well above fossil fuels and wind (though windpower is more “intermittent” than a well-sited CSP plant, and generally wind’s peak production time does not match peak loads as well). Prices for CSP are coming down, however, and the projected increase in new plants will help drive down prices further. Most companies are shooting for a target contract price of 15 cents/khw in the US, whereas “the price for electricity from new baseload natural gas plants is about 9 cents per kilowatt hour, and rises to 12 to 48 cents/kwh for peak power, depending on what report you read,” says Tom Hunt, with the Community Environmental Council. Unlike fossil fuel plants, which are expected to see rising prices over time, CSP plants have no fuel costs, and therefore no future price surprises once a contract is signed.

At least one company says they have already solved the cost issue. The US-Australian company Ausra has a new proprietary design that it says can produce electricity for 10 cents/kWh. Not only is Ausra’s design cheaper; the company will also save money by manufacturing units as close to where they’ll be installed as possible, to reduce shipping costs. Ausra is now building the “world’s largest” CSP factory in Nevada that will be able to churn out 700MW/year in new systems, to supply the hot US Southwest market. Other companies are also trimming the costs of their units by incorporating lighter materials, fewer moving parts, and other innovations.

One factor that would allow CSP to compete on an equal playing field with fossil fuels sooner is a price on carbon. “Everyone thinks an increase in the cost of carbon is coming,” said David Crane, CEO of NRG Energy Inc., in a recent article in EnergyBiz magazine. That would make the cost of electricity from coal jump significantly.

The other primary challenge for CSP is the ability to produce energy “24-7,” the way fossil fuel plants can. Plants would need 16 hours of storage to generate electricity around the clock. Ausra says it can store energy at its prototype plants for 20 hours – a breakthrough that, if it proves workable outside the pilot-plant stage, will place the company at the head of the pack. Ausra’s solar collectors employ a propriety storage system, but the basic idea is to focus light onto tubes filled with water, thus directly producing steam. Storing heat is more efficient than storing electricity: just 2-7% of the energy is lost in heat storage systems, compared with losses of at least 15% when energy is stored in a battery, according to the MIT Technology Review. Ausra will start construction on a 175 MW commercial plant in California later this year.

We Shall Overcome

Transmission issues can be more complex than with fossil fuel plants, as large CSP plants cannot always be built close to where power is needed. An article in Scientific American recently laid out a “grand plan” to massively increase solar power (both CSP and PV) in the US. It called for replacing the existing system of alternating-current (AC) power lines which lose too much energy over long hauls with a high-voltage, direct-current (HVDC) power transmission system, which lose far less energy than AC lines over equivalent spans. “The AC system is simply out of capacity, leading to noted shortages in California and other regions; DC lines are cheaper to build and require less land area than equivalent AC lines,” the magazine notes.

Water use is another potential drawback. Some CSP designs require water to cool the plant, which is impractical in the desert. Experts say R&D is needed to find air-cooling innovations. Some types, such as dish units, do not require water for cooling. Plants can also be built near the sea, where they could power desalination plants to produce their own cooling water.

A related environmental issue is the siting of large industrial solar fields in fragile deserts. Clearly, care must be taken to minimize impacts, to prevent CSP from being viewed as an unwelcome visitor in the way that large wind farms have become in some settings.

Another siting issue relates to the relatively large tracts of land needed for these projects compared to fossil fuel plants. Not all CSP plants are equally land-guzzling. “We are more than two times more efficient when it comes to land,” said Rob Morgan, Ausra’s chief development officer. Morgan states that using Ausra’s technology, it would take a square of land 92 miles on a side to “provide all US electric power – the entire US grid – day and night” (US consumption is currently about 25% of electricity use worldwide). “This amount of land is less than 1% of America’s deserts, less land than currently in use in the US for coal mines, and a tiny fraction of the land currently in agricultural use,” according to the Ausra website. The company notes that CSP also has a much smaller land footprint than large hydro.

These aren’t insurmountable issues, but they will have to be addressed for a mass rollout to succeed. Industry experts say that incentives are still important for the near term to help the industry address these challenges. The European Union has spent some €25 million in the past decade to help develop this technology. In the US, an investment tax credit (ITC) provides R&D incentive, but has to be renewed every two years, creating uncertainty for those trying to develop projects.

Another type of incentive is feed-in tariffs, as is being tried in Spain. These more direct forms of subsidy are not as good at encouraging innovations that lead to price reductions, say some experts. “At those prices, it’s all project driven, you just want to get projects built,” says Arnold Leitner, president of Skyfuel.

Under African Skies

What will it take (besides sunshine) for this technology to reach poorer and middle-income countries? The potential is certainly there for the nations with hot, dry climates. Two of the fastest-growing energy users, China and India, are well endowed with desert solar resources to power their economies. Mexico also has huge solar reserves close to major cities in both Mexico and the US. And of course, the granddaddy of all deserts, the Sahara, has many CSP experts feverish in anticipation.

Last year European engineers unveiled a plan to build thousands of megawatts of CSP plants to connect via high voltage undersea cables to northern Europe – enough to meet up to a sixth of Europe’s electricity needs. Engineers with the German Aerospace Center who carried out the feasibility studies see the project “as a win-win scenario creating energy, water and income for the Middle East and North Africa,” according to the BBC.

An article in the UK Guardian states: “The Desertec project envisages a ring of a thousand of these stations being built along the coast of northern Africa and round into the Mediterranean coast of the Middle East. In this way up to 100 billion watts of power could be generated: two thirds of it would be kept for local needs, the rest – around 30 billion watts – would be exported to Europe.” The plants’ superheated steam would be used to desalinate water (normally an energy-intensive operation).

The deserts of Africa would be a natural for CSP for domestic purposes too, but thus far there has been little progress. In Southern Africa, the South African utility Eskom has been studying plans for a 100 MW CSP plant for many years, but the decision to build keeps getting put off. The site chosen for the plant is one of the best in the world for solar. The company hopes to use local producers for materials as much as possible.

A recent major power shortfall has Eskom in crisis mode, however, and it’s not clear if the new CSP plant will benefit from or be sunk by the turbulence. What is clear, however, is that Eskom will need to find cleaner ways to produce energy. Currently, coal-fired plants produce about 90% of South Africa’s power. According to Eskom’s CEO, if Eskom were a country, it would rank 25th among the world’s largest emitters of carbon dioxide. The huge utility, which supplies power to neighbors as well, is also looking to build a string of nuclear plants, and the world’s biggest dam on the Congo River.

Other Southern Africa nations are farther behind. Morteza Abekenari, the CEO of Solar Power, a Botswana-based company that manufactures solar panels, says he has for years been trying to convince local energy authorities to buy into the idea of concentrating solar power, without any luck. “When we started, we said that the sun was Botswana’s diamond that would last forever, but the idea of solar energy was like science fiction here,” he told the Francistown Voice.

Go Micro

It’s not surprising that a small nation with low energy needs like Botswana might balk at the big outlays of cash required for large-scale CSP plants and the grid extensions they might require. But there is another option that could prove workable for areas where grid expansion is impractical. Micro CSP is a smaller scale version of its big brother that is easier to install and can be cost-effectively shipped long distances.

At least one company, the Hawaii-based Sopogy, has developed a rooftop unit that can power a single building or industrial complex. Unlike standard CSP components, the Sopogy unit was developed with more humid climates in mind, and the company is now beginning to market worldwide for large industrial users and residential/hotel complexes. Their systems range from 500KW-10MW.

“I believe there is great potential for micro-CSP to make a difference in developing countries,” says Sopogy’s Al Yuen. “This is especially true for the application of process heat for industrial purposes, which can be generated at 60-70% efficiency and would be the lowest cost solar solution.”

Clearly, CSP is a very exciting alternative with huge potential – but like other new renewables, it is only part of the solution. “No one thing will be the answer to renewable energy to power the grid. CSP will contribute more and more. Wind’s role will grow. And ocean power has tremendous potential. A little further out it might be organic solar cells and solar cells that use nanomaterials. You’ll see a combination based on geography and cost,” says NREL’s George Douglas.

More information:

Concentrating Solar Thermal Power Now! is a “blueprint for action” that aims to accelerate market introduction of CSP. The 2005 report (now being updated for a late-2008 re-release), written by Greenpeace and the European Solar Thermal Industry Association, “demonstrates that there are no technical, economic or resource barriers to supplying 5% of the world’s electricity needs from solar thermal power by 2040 – even against the challenging backdrop of a projected doubling in global electricity demand.” Download the report.

Learn more about plans for CSP in the Sahara

Contact us:

Lori Pottinger
lori@internationalrivers.org
+1 510 848 1155

Tech firm will build 10-megawatt, 50-acre solar farm

February 26, 2008

Tech firm will build 10-megawatt, 50-acre solar farm

With help from the state, Honolulu-based solar technology firm Sopogy Inc. plans to build a 50-acre solar farm on Oahu capable of generating about 10 megawatts of power, enough energy to power about 30,000 homes.

The company is seeking up to $35 million in special-purpose revenue bonds from the state for the project.

Company President Darren Kimura declined to disclose the project’s location but said he expects the systems to be in operation by late next year.

The project would use Sopogy’s proprietary solar collectors, which concentrate the sun’s power to heat mineral oil, which is then run through a turbine to create electricity.

Sopogy plans to sell the power to Hawaiian Electric Co.

“What we’re trying to do is bring large-scale solar energy to Hawaii,” Kimura told PBN. “It’s particularly important for Oahu because of the density of the population — there are so many users on the grid with the military and hospitality industry here.”

Last year, the state awarded Sopogy $10 million in special-purpose revenue bonds for a 1-megawatt demonstration solar farm at the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority in Kailua-Kona on the Big Island.

Sopogy Expands to new Silicon Valley Office

February 21, 2008

PRESS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Date: 2/21/08

Subject: Sopogy Expands to New Silicon Valley Office

Contact: Darren T. Kimura, President & CEO

Tel: (808) 833-4747

Email: dkimura@sopogy.org


Sopogy Expands to New Silicon Valley Office

Honolulu, HI – Sopogy, Inc. developer and manufacturer of proprietary and highly efficient “MicroCSP™” concentrating solar power panels today announced the opening of a new office West Coast office located in California’s Bay Area. The office will serve as home for the company’s sales, marketing, customer support activities and California focused project management. The office will be led by Silicon Valley veteran and company Director of Corporate Development, Al Yuen PhD.

“Opening the West Cost Solar Solutions center is a major step forward for Sopogy. It helps us bring our technologies to the largest solar markets and allows us better service our rapidly growing customer base including the top Engineering Procurement and Contracting and Power Purchase Financing firms in the solar industry.” Said Darren T. Kimura, President and CEO of Sopogy, Inc.

The Honolulu, Hawaii office continues to be the Company’s corporate headquarters and is home for all executive, research, development, administrative and Hawaii focused project management and sales activities.

About Sopogy

Founded in 2005, Sopogy specializes in research, development and manufacturing of MicroCSP™ solar technologies. MicroCSP™ systems focus and intensifies solar energy using mirrors and optics to generate thermal energy. This process provides a 2x increase over traditional solar panels. Sopogy’s integrated solar solution brings the proven economics of large utility solar energy systems to the industrial and commercial sectors in a durable, smaller and cost effective package. Please visit www.sopogy.org for more information.

Solar-power ‘farms’ catching on as well

February 10, 2008

Sopogy 10 Megawatt Solar Farm

Solar electrical systems aren’t only being considered for homes and business buildings.

At least three solar farms are being considered for Hawai’i. The James Campbell Co. last month signed an agreement with a Hoku Scientific Inc. unit to plan a Kapolei Sustainable Energy Park that would be capable of generating 1.5 mega watts of power, or enough to power 6,700 homes for a year.

The photovoltaic farm would be the largest such facility on O’ahu, though plans are afoot for an even larger 10-megawatt solar farm on O’ahu using a slightly different technology known as concentrating solar power. Sopogy Inc., a Honolulu-based company, wants to build the facility with the help of up to $35 million of special purpose revenue bonds.

Sopogy already is in the process of planning and building a 1-megawatt solar farm using its technology at the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority on the Big Island.

Instead of employing photovoltaic cells that convert light to electricity, the system makes use of curved mirrors that intensify and focus sun energy on a pipe filled with a fluid. After being heated, the fluid can be used to drive turbines and generate electricity, for use in absorption electricity or steam creation.

While the technology has been around for more than 30 years, Sopogy says it has a design that makes the process more efficient.

“It’s a very interesting approach,” said Darren Kimura, president of Sopogy, which last year attracted more than $9 million in venture capital funding.

“We feel very comfortable with moving forward with a significantly larger project.”

Kimura said he is receiving calls and e-mails on a regular basis asking about the technology, which, unlike photovoltaic, can be used to generate electricity at night by storing the heated fluid during the day for use hours later.

Kimura declined to say where the O’ahu solar farm might be located and said he has been in discussions with Hawaiian Electric Co. about the project.

—Greg Wiles

Sopogy Featured on Renewable Energy Access Podcast

January 31, 2008

Sopogy on Renewable Energy Access Podcast

CSP: Market Trends and New Technologies

by Stephen Lacey, Podcast Editor

Peterborough, New Hampshire [RenewableEnergyAccess.com]

Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) is emerging as one of the most promising utility-scale renewable energy sources. The launch of Nevada Solar One last June sparked a revival for this so-called “sleeping giant” in the U.S. and marked the first of a series of important developments for the industry. But there is still much uncertainty about the mid-term prospects for CSP, as the possibility of the investment and production tax credits expiring hangs over the industry.

Faced with this rocky investment climate, the U.S. is falling behind countries like Spain, which has a generous feed-in tariff for CSP developers. Mike Taylor, Director of Research for the Solar Electric Power Association just got back from a trip to Spain where he toured a few different projects and talked to developers and financiers. Taylor and CSP Today founder Belen Gallego will tell us about how the Spanish industry is benefiting from the country’s renewable energy support structure.

We’ll also speak with Ausra Executive Vice President John O’Donnell about the company’s unique parabolic trough collectors and about how uncertainty in the U.S. market may impacting its aggressive business plan.

Finally, Darren Kimura, President and CEO of Sopogy talks about micro-CSP and how the company’s technology can play a major role in the distributed generation sector.


Inside Renewable Energy offers the latest in renewable energy news and information.

Play Sopogy CSP Podcast