ISRAELI-GERMAN SOLAR TECHNOLOGY READIES FOR MARKET
A concentrating solar power concept developed by an Israeli-German research team at Israel’s Ben-Gurion University and Germany's Fraunhofer Institute is about to be the newest entry in a growing competition among solar power plant technologies.
Zenith Solar uses a 10-sq.-meter (107.6-sq.-ft.) dish of curved mirrors (made from composite materials) to focus sunlight on a 100-sq.-centimeter (15.5-sq.-in.) "generator." The generator converts light to electricity and gives off intense heat that is captured for residential/industrial hot-water. It is the combination of electricity generation AND heat capturing capacity that makes the contraption potent enough to render an estimated 70% of the sunpower falling on it as usable energy.
This concept has tested as 1,000 times more efficient than flat rooftop photovoltaic (PV) panels. Just as importantly, it does not use silicon. David Faiman, chief scientific officer, Zenith: "Photovoltaic material accounts for 80% of the cost of standard systems…Our technology succeeds in reducing this to less than 10%, while at the same time obtaining very high efficiency."
The Zenith system will now get 2 trials. 86 7-meter-high dishes over an acre of land will provide 25% of the energy needs for 250 families at Kibbutz Yavne. Another will replace heating oil used at a large chemical plant in central Israel. When the trials prove the technology, Zenith will go commercial, probably in 2009, with installations for individual homes and larger customers.
The excitement the Zenith system generates is based on the expectation its high efficiency will make it more cost-effective than traditional PV rooftop systems that are estimated to be 2 to 3 times more expensive than the cost of conventional power generation. Amit Mor, CEO, Israeli consultant Eco-Energy: "Photovoltaic can't continue to exist on subsidies or it will remain a marginal form of energy…"
The Zenith principals claim their device will produce energy at the same cost as conventional sources.
The Zenith Solar concept seems a lot like a technology reported on by NewEnergyNews in November 2007: BRAND NEW SUN IN ISRAEL and ISRAELI SOLAR CONCEPT FUNDED
A Zenith Solar power plant. (click to enlarge)
At the Zenith of Solar; Israeli energy startup Zenith Solar is pioneering a “concentrated solar power” method that is up to five times more efficient than standard technology
Neal Sandler, March 26, 2008 (BusinessWeek)
Zenith Solar (Roy Segev, founder/chief executive & David Faiman, chief scientific officer)
David Faiman, chief science officer for Zenith Solar and the grand old man of Israeli solar energy. (click to enlarge)
Following test results proving its technology to be 1,000 times more efficient than standard rooftop solar panels and capable of turning 70% of the sunlight that hits it into usable energy, Zenith Solar is preparing for field tests and large scale commercialization.
- In the 1990s the Israeli government required all new residential buildings to install solar water-heating systems.
- Zenith Solar was founded in 2006.
It's a harsh land but rich in sun. (click to enlarge)
- Zenith Solar is based in Nes Ziona near Tel Aviv.
- The Zenith concept was tested at Israel's National Solar Center in the Negev desert.
- The company is aiming at large market opportunities in the U.S., Spain, Italy, Greece, India, and China.
- Zenith Solar has raised $5 million from Israeli and U.S. VCs and is looking for $10 million to $15 million more to commercialize.
- It’s 1 million solar hot water systems presently meet 4% of Israel’s total power requirements.
- The Zenith Solar concept could supply another 12%.
click to enlarge
- Roy Segev, founder/chief executive, Zenith Solar: "Our goal is to utilize every suitable roof, backyard, and open space in Israel to turn households, hotels, and factories into net producers of electricity and thermal heat…"
- Segev, on taking the company international: "In California alone, there are 6.9 million private homes that could potentially produce most or all of their own energy…"
- David Faiman, chief scientific officer, Zenith: "The first generation of our technology should be capable of harnessing about 70% of the solar energy that hits the dish to produce electricity and thermal heat…"