Friday, October 10, 2008

SkyFuel unveils the SkyTrough(TM): the world's highest performance, lowest cost utility-scale solar power system


ARVADA, Colo., Oct 10, 2008 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- SkyFuel, Inc. today secured its position as the leader in the rapidly growing concentrating solar power (CSP) industry by unveiling the SkyTrough(TM): the highest performance, lowest cost utility-scale solar power system of any kind for generating electricity. With glass-free mirrors, a highly engineered space frame that allows compact transportation and rapid field assembly, and new more efficient drive & control systems, the SkyTrough(TM) cuts the cost of the parabolic trough concentrator by 35 percent compared to other commercially available systems. The SkyTrough(TM) is the solar collector system at the heart of several large solar thermal power plants currently planned for the southwestern United States.
The SkyTrough(TM) is 375 feet long, twenty feet tall, and features the largest parabolic trough modules ever built. It was developed with the support of the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and with a grant from New Mexico Governor Bill Richardon's Energy Innovation Fund for SkyFuel's research partnership with the University of New Mexico.
SkyFuel CEO, Dr. Arnold Leitner, and chief technology officer (CTO), Randy Gee, hosted a ceremonial unveiling and reception at SkyFuel's research & development center in Arvada to present the SkyTrough(TM) solar collector assembly. More than three hundred invited guests including power industry leaders, renewable energy financiers and government officials attended the event.
"SkyFuel has harnessed two of Colorado's greatest resources: our state's solar energy potential and our educated workforce. The company is a great example of how Colorado is building a new energy economy and becoming a national and international leader in renewable energy," said Colorado Governor, Bill Ritter.
Advanced Materials & Innovative Design
The SkyTrough(TM) is a breakthrough design patterned after the best of the previous utility-scale parabolic troughs with several critical innovations that improve performance and significantly reduce cost. Chief among those improvements is the use of ReflecTech(R) Mirror Film: a low-cost, highly reflective and shatterproof silvered-polymer film, jointly designed by SkyFuel CTO, Randy Gee, and scientists at NREL to replace the expensive, heavy and fragile curved-glass mirrors, which are still used in all other parabolic trough designs used for electric power generation.
In the SkyTrough(TM), ReflecTech(R) Mirror Film is laminated to thin aluminum sheets to form light-weight, yet highly accurate mirror panels. This allows for larger and fewer panel segments than in previous trough designs that still use curved glass. In the SkyTrough(TM), ReflecTech(R) Mirror Film cuts mirror costs by approximately 50 percent compared to the price of using glass. ReflecTech(R) Mirror Film is also easily manufactured at high volume thus eliminating one bottleneck that has slowed the deployment of other solar power systems.
The SkyTrough(TM) space frame is another major advance in parabolic trough design. The all-aluminum tubular structure is 30 percent lighter per unit of mirror area than even the best of the previous utility-scale parabolic collectors -- a critical aspect in a world of rising commodity prices. The SkyTrough(TM) space frame has 40 percent fewer parts and requires no welding in the field resulting in significantly faster construction time and reduced labor costs. In addition, all ready-to-assemble components of the 375-foot long SkyTrough(TM) will fit onto one flat bed truck, an important advantage with transportation fuel costs on the rise.
Top Technology Team
For SkyFuel Chief Technology Officer, Gee, the SkyTrough(TM) is the culmination of three decades on the leading edge of solar power design. "I've had the privilege of working with many of the pioneers and great innovators in the solar industry," said Gee. "At SkyFuel we've built a team of CSP veterans and highly skilled innovators from other fields. The result is the best hardware in the solar power business."
The careers of key SkyFuel technology team members add up to well more than 100 years' of experience in mastering the design and deployment of solar thermal power systems. "By combining this deep experience with new talent we have created an enthusiastic 'can-do' team. This superb team has delivered a home run with the SkyTrough(TM)," said Gee.
-- Randy Gee, Chief Technology Officer: Prior to joining SkyFuel, Gee was Director of Research, Development and Deployment for Solargenix (now Acciona) where he designed the parabolic trough collectors for the 64 MW Nevada Solar One plant commissioned in 2007.
-- Dr. David Kearney, Senior Technical Advisor: As vice president of Advanced Technology in the US subsidiary of Luz International, Kearney helped prove the commercial applicability of CSP with the deployment of the SEGS plants in California's Mojave Desert which are still operating.
-- Coleman Moore, VP Research & Technology: Before joining SkyFuel, Moore designed the control systems for the 64MW Nevada Solar One plant.
-- David White, VP, Engineering and Manufacturing: Prior to SkyFuel, as principal researcher, he led a team of engineers and subcontractors on multiple concentrating solar R&D efforts in partnership with the Department of Energy's National Laboratories and private companies.
-- Adrian Farr, VP, Structural Engineering: Farr is a specialist in the design of aluminum space frames. Prior to joining SkyFuel, he was a Senior Structural Engineer with Conservatek Industries, a world leader in the design and deployment of aluminum geodesic dome structures.
-- Dr. Randy Brost, VP, Engineering Science: Brost is a top analyst and designer of complex automated manufacturing systems. He joined SkyFuel from Eastman Kodak where he oversaw special projects in the company's commercial copier division. Prior to his work at Kodak, Brost led a team at the Sandia National Laboratories researching computerized robotics.
-- Robert Hawkins, VP, Quality Engineering: Hawkins carries over experience from Oracle where he oversaw product lifecycle management from pre- to post-sales for a broad array of the enterprise software giant's products. At SkyFuel, Hawkins focuses on enhancing the efficiency and manufacturability of the company's solar thermal power designs.
At the SkyTrough(TM) unveiling, SkyFuel founder and CEO, Dr, Arnold Leitner put his company's work in context: "Despite stunning amounts of funding and media attention for a variety of other, purportedly exotic, solar thermal technologies, parabolic trough remains the world's only utility scale design that is commercially proven and bank financeable. The SkyTrough(TM) builds on the success of projects such as Nevada Solar One, but dramatically reduces cost while solving some of the most vexing and costly problems such as glass mirrors that shatter in the desert winds. Today's unveiling truly marks The Sunrise of Solar Power(TM) toward being a major source in the world's energy mix."
SkyFuel, Inc. is a solar power technology provider with headquarters in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and research and development facilities in Arvada, Colorado. SkyFuel is emerging as a world leader in the design and deployment of concentrating solar power (CSP) systems. The Company designs turnkey large-scale solar fields that produce steam for power generation and industrial application.
SOURCE SkyFuel, Inc.

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