Published on May 3rd, 2012 | by Zachary Shahan17
Solarphasec — Solar Power Meets Art
Here’s an interesting solar technology I recently ran across — Solarphasec’s 3D Spin Cell Generators (or, as I call them, solar cones). As you can see in the images and video above and the images below, this is a different look for solar.
However, beyond a pretty look, these solar cones are supposed to outperform conventional solar panels. The site states that they generate 40% more power throughout the course of the day and have 60% more gain during the course of the year. Return on investment (ROI) is projected to be quite a bit better according to the company’s calculations (note: costs of conventional panels have come down a bit since the numbers below were calculated, but not nearly enough to reach an ROI of 3.349 years):
The Solarphasec site discusses how this conic form improves the performance of these solar power systems:
“This technology introduces a conic form factor which allows for a larger photovoltaic surface area for a given footprint. This in turn leads to an exponential increase in active area as the Solarphasec system footprint increases. The conic form factor also essentially eliminates the concern of modules shadowing adjacent modules as is the case with ground mounted flat solar panel arrays. Additionally, the conic form factor significantly reduces wind load, allowing for large scale, high power commercial rooftop deployment.”
Other features of the solar cone also help:
The proprietary electromechanical function of the system increases the efficiency of the photovoltaic cells deployed in the system leading to significantly higher output power compared to an equivalent footprint of a standard solar panel.
The proprietary electromechanical function is designed to provide alternating current output for electrical distribution without the need for inverter equipment normally required to modify the direct current output from the photovoltaic cells. This is a significant design issue as inverters cause an efficiency loss and currently cost $0.70/watt of the total installed system cost of approximately $7.00/watt.
Overall, the company claims that the Solarphasec 3D Spin Cell Generator beats conventional solar panels on performance and price. I don’t have enough technical expertise to chime in much on the details of the tech, and I don’t see any independent verification of that yet, but that would be nice, wouldn’t it? (I’m checking in with the company about testing.)
Here are some more details on cost:
Financial comparison of conventional PV to Solarphasec
- Financial models were built, using System Advisor Model, a photovoltaic system modeling engine developed by Sandia Labs for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
- The baseline model is a 4kW flat panel system, consisting of forty 100 watt panels plus a DC/AC inverter.
- The Solarphasec model is a 4kW array of Solarphasec Spin 3D Solar Power Generators.
Solarphasec Installed Cost comparisons:
Aside from efficiency and performance improvements, what really struck me about the tech is that it looks so cool! In particular, when looking at the image on the right, I thought, “this could be installed not only for generating electricity but also as a work of art.”
Images of the solar cones on more typical streetlights and poles aren’t as flashy, but they still look pretty cool.
Regarding that solar cone power pole/tree on the right, Solarspheric writes: “The 17 Kilowatt Power pole serves as an art form with the ability to produce 17,000 watts in a 3 square meter footprint.”
Solarspheric opened a new funding round in February. It aims to raise $3.5 million to fund set-up costs “associated with the full-scale commercial production of its Sentinel Spin Cell range.”
What do you think? Winning? Serious flaws and impossible claims? I’m going to go with the former, but cautiously — I’ve written about many technologies that have not yet panned out as promised, but I’m hoping these solar cones from Solarspheric are all the company’s site says they are.