Sopogy appoints Layne Yoshida, CPA as Corporate Controller

June 30, 2010

Honolulu, HI—June 30, 2010— Sopogy, Inc., a leader in small-scale concentrating solar power (MicroCSP) technology development, manufacturing, and installation, announced the appointment of Layne Yoshida as Corporate Controller reporting to the CFO. In this role, Yoshida will oversee accounting, reporting, compliance, controls, and tax-related matters for the Company.

“The rapid adoption of Sopogy’s MicroCSP technologies has led to fast growth of our company and we are anxiously looking forward to Layne’s contributions,” said Darren Kimura, President and CEO. “We are pleased to have a specialist of Layne’s caliber and expertise joining Sopogy at this critical time.”

Yoshida joins Sopogy from Central Pacific Financial Corp (NYSE: CPF) where he served as Vice President and Director of Accounting. As a certified public accountant, Yoshida brings 15 years of accounting experience including senior-level finance positions at Coherent Inc. and Ernst and Young LLP.

About Sopogy
Sopogy specializes in MicroCSP™ solar technologies that bring the economics of large solar energy fields to the industrial, commercial and utility sectors.  In the power market  MicroCSP™ technologies target the 1-50 Megawatt class. MicroCSP™ technologies are also used for solar absorption cooling, desalination and steam generation. Sopogy’s goal is to invent, commercialize and deploy cost effective and easy to install solar solutions to bring the solar energy everywhere. Please visit for more information.


Media Contact:
Dy Phung
Sopogy, Inc.

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)

Pamela Joe Receives Forty Under 40 Award

June 21, 2010

Sopogy’s VP of Corporate Development and General Counsel is Honored as One of Hawaii’s Top Business Leaders

Honolulu, HI—June 18, 2010— Sopogy, Inc., a manufacturer of small-scale concentrating solar power (MicroCSP) systems, is proud to announce Pamela Joe, VP of Corporate Development and General Counsel, has been named a recipient of the Pacific Business News (PBN) Forty Under 40 awards for 2010.

The award recognizes Hawaii’s highly accomplished young leaders under the age of 40 based on professional success, community involvement and strong industry leadership. Pamela received the award at the Forty Under 40 awards ceremony on Thursday, June 17 at the Hawaii Convention Center.

Since joining Sopogy in 2008, Pamela has played an instrumental role in the growth of the company as it transitioned from a Hawaii research firm into a commercial company achieving global sales. She is responsible for overseeing policy, business and legal matters of the company and represents the concentrating solar power (CSP) industry in City and State policy matters where she has been key in developing Hawaii’s Feed-in-Tariff (FiT) Program for CSP.

“Pamela’s deep legal knowledge, hard work, and fresh perspectives have contributed tremendously to the company’s growth and success” said Darren Kimura, Sopogy’s President and CEO. “She is fully deserving of this honor.”

Outside of the office, Pamela is dedicated to community service and generously donates her time and talents to local organizations including Punahou School’s Enterpreneurs in Residence Program and Aloha United Way. She has also volunteered pro bono legal services to nonprofits.

Pamela holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Stanford University and a J.D. with distinction in corporate and business law from UCLA.

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. Please visit for more information.

Media Contact:
Dy Phung
Sopogy, Inc.

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.