San Francisco-based GreenVolts, a company pursuing a new solar concentration approach for utility grade power, today announced it has been chosen by Pacific Northwest utility Avista for a demonstration project—and has received a strategic investment from the company.

This summer, GreenVolts is to place its high concentration photovoltaic (HCPV) system with Avista at a test site. The project will record performance data over two years to validate long-term system performance and costs.

GreenVolts believes its photovoltaic collector will deliver energy at a cost competitive with peak natural gas alternatives when coupled with a tracking mechanism.

“We believe the future is one in which consumers will gain access to green energy by plugging into the grid instead of going off of it,” said Bob Cart, CEO and founder of GreenVolts. “In order for this to become a reality, utilities must have access to a price competitive solar energy source that can also be located close to the demand.”

The company calls its 3kW platform a CarouSol. It uses low cost mirrors to concentrate 625 suns of energy onto a small, 40 percent-efficient solar cell, confirmed to Inside Greentech as a Spectrolab cell at a recent industry event.

It is mounted on a two axis tracking mechanism, and features automated storm stowing, automated cleaning and passive cooling in distributed generation configurations of 1-20 MW.
The system appears to offer similar features to a solar thermal-based (not photovoltaic) utility-grade system being developed by Hawaii-based Sopogy, which also offers parabolic concentration and storm stowing for desert-based applications.

In addition to the Avista investment of an unreported amount, GreenVolts has raised more than $1.5 million in seed money and expects to seek a venture round of funding later this year. It was the winner of the California Cleantech Open business plan competition’s Renewables Power Prize last year.

Avista Utilities provides service to 346,000 electric and 306,000 natural gas customers in three western U.S. states.

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