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Published on January 24th, 2013 | by Zachary Shahan


V3Solar Spin Cell = 8 Cents/kWh? (CleanTechnica Exclusive)

January 24th, 2013 by  

Quite frankly, if the company’s numbers are correct, this could be some big solar news. (CleanTechnica got the inside scoop due to our sincere “passion” for helping the world, and probably also our status as the top cleantech or clean energy site in the world.) The key will be whether or not the technology performs as expected once a production prototype is created, and (even more so) if it eventually gets to mass production.

As a quick refresher, we’ve covered V3Solar before, back when the name was Solarphasec. See: Solarphasec — Solar Power Meets Art (I think that includes a good intro of the tech, as well as an early version of a V3Solar cone or “Spin Cell.”)

But a simple intro of the tech isn’t the big story of the day (that’s old news) — the story of the day is the very low cost of the tech the company is reporting, and that’s what could change the world; that’s what could stimulate a more transformative distributed energy revolution than anything we’ve seen to date. (If it’s true.)

In case you aren’t aware, the average cost of electricity in the US is about 12 cents per kWh. The cost of V3Solar’s Spin Cell, as noted in the title (and based on tests that the company considers to actually be conservative — meaning the cost could actually be lower), was quoted to me as being 8 cents per kWh! Bill Rever, a 3rd-party solar specialist has apparently verified the cost projection. You can see his technical review here.

When I received this information and was astounded at the low price, my source wrote: “Yes. We are excited. We think we can go below that, but we want to stay conservative.”

So, 8¢/kWh is two-thirds the price of retail electricity. If the cost projection is true, that’s astounding, and revolutionary. (Notes: the 8¢/kWh figure is LCOE; and the BOM cost is 59 cents/Wp, including racking, tracking, and the inverter.)

Here’s an chart showing how the Spin Cell could compete with other energy technologies (at currently calculated LCOE figures):

Am I cautious? Yes. Until a new technology is on the market, I’m always cautious. And I’m no solar scientist or engineer. A production prototype is still in development, and a low-volume production phase would follow that before advancing on to the mass-market production phase. A lot can change between the lab, the manufacturing floor, and the Home Depot shelf. I have no capability of saying if it will or not. But let’s not forget that we’ve put a man on the moon, we’ve now got a world of information in our computers and even on our phones, we can talk to people across the world via tiny microphones and can receives tweets from astronauts out in space, we can play video games with almost real-life visuals, and more. Changes happen. Technology advances. Every “breakthrough” doesn’t translate into a commercial product, but some do. We’ll simply have to wait to see if this is one of those technologies.

V3Solar’s Spin Cell

I shared a link above to a good overview of the technology, but if you’re not the type to click through on links, or simply want a bit more info, here’s another summary based on info from a “corporate overview” that was passed on to me:

Revolutionizing Solar

I think everyone can now picture a conventional solar panel. But a phone 20 years ago certainly didn’t look like a phone today. And solar technology today may look nothing like solar technology in 20 years. And if V3Solar’s technology is anything close to as cheap as presented above, there’s a good chance solar installations will soon look much different.

“V3Solar has invented, and is now in the process of commercializing, the first major change to flat panel PV technology in over 50 years – the V3 Spin Cell. For too long, the world believed solar was flat,” V3Solar writes.

“Using specialized lensing and a rotating, conical shape, the Spin Cell can concentrate the sunlight 30X onto one sun mono PV with no heat degradation. This increases the Power Density while lowering the Total Cost of Ownership and Levelized Cost of Energy (LCOE), which is estimated to be $.08/kWh for the Spin Cell (see spreadsheet).”

Here’s more on this in a bit simpler language and more detail:

  1. Concentrated light reduces the amount of PV by a factor of the amount of concentration – 30X sun concentration requires 1/30th of the PV for the same power output.
  2. Dynamic Spin cools the PV so that one sun mono PV can handle a concentration of more than 30X suns.
  3. The dynamic spin increases the efficiency of the PV by 20%, effectively increasing 20% efficient PV to 24% efficiency.
  4. Spinning the PV under multiple lenses creates “an additive” effect of sunlight.

“The Spin Cell does have additional BOM costs for the magnets, the power electronics and the form factor, but these costs are mitigated by the increased production through integrated tracking, inverter, and racking.
 Bottom line is the Levelized Cost of Energy (LCOE). The company contracted with Bill Rever to complete a 3rd party technical analysis on the V3Solar technology and to verify all of the numbers for the LCOE.”

A second product based on the same technology, called CoolSpin, integrates with existing concentrated photovoltaics (CPV), but it reportedly lowers their material costs by 34%, because it addresses CPV’s key shortcoming.

“Being able to use the abundant and cheap one sun mono PV is a significant market advantage. Concentrated Photovoltaic (CPV) has been forced to rely on expensive, exotic, and scarce materials to handle the increased heat, costing up to 400X more.
Using less PV for the same power output is significant because the cost of the lensing material is 1/10th the cost of one sun mono PV.”

CoolSpin is a simpler product to design and manufacture and the company expects it will be in full production by the middle of 2013. You can read about Cool Spin on the V3Solar website.

Here are some more charts and tables on the above information:

Here is a slide from the company’s investment deck that explains how the automated manufacturing will work:

Preparing For Manufacturing & Mass Market

“The Spin Cell is currently undergoing refinement and cost analysis at, a Californian based industrial design house, as a precursor to commercial production. The Company is also engaged in negotiations with potential licensees in both the United States and abroad for high volume manufacturing of the Spin Cell.”

Through partnerships with manufacturers and major solar companies, and their specific licensing model, V3Solar is looking to get its Spin Cell to mass market quickly.

Notably, I also learned from my contact that V3Solar already has over 4 GW of requests for orders. To put that into perspective, the US currently has about 7 GW of installed solar power capacity. 4 GW would be impressive! Again, we’ll see what happens after the prototype test, but it seems that a handful of big players are quite interested in this.

As one example of a potential order, a group specializing in military projects has signed a deal with V3Solar to develop 1000 Mobile Energy Production systems for the US Army, at $500K each. For this project, the Spin Cell would be integrated with the batteries of a major multi-national corporation (I can’t share the name, but they are huge). The batteries and Spin Cells will be held in shipping containers for transport, which will then open up like a flower upon arrival to cheaply produce clean energy. This will not only save money, but will also reduce supply-line casualties. A similar system is being developed for disaster relief.

The Mission

In a nutshell, here’s the company mission: “A new spin on solar to capture 3% of the energy market with a licensing model that eliminates CAPEX costs, mitigates risk, and diversifies production.”

Again, to put “3% of the energy market” into perspective, all solar power installed in the US to date currently accounts for about 0.5-1% of the energy market — V3Solar has some ambitious targets, and it plans to hit those through cooperation and partnerships that are good for the average citizen.

Spin Cell Benefits

In summary, here’s a list of the technology’s key benefits, according to the company:

  • Dual axis tracking from conical design
  • Increased Power Density
  • Lower Total Cost of Ownership
  • “Power Stair casing” — as the PV spins past multiple lenses, an additive effect of sunlight is created – a first for any solar device.
  • Integrated racking and ease of installation
  • Through the concentration of sunlight, the Spin Cell uses only 5% of the amount of PV as flat panels to produce the same power, thus reducing the cost/watt.

“The Spin Cell does have additional BOM costs for the magnets, the power electronics and the form factor, but these costs are mitigated by the increased production through integrated tracking, inverter, and racking. Bottom line is the Levelized Cost of Energy (LCOE).”

There’s a lot more to write about the company and the technology, but I think I’ll leave it at that for now. 8¢ per kWh would be astounding, and combined with some progressive goals the company has, we may genuinely see it transform the energy industry.

Comments or questions? Drop us a note!

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All images via V3Solar 
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About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) one letter at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor. Otherwise, he's probably enthusiastically fulfilling his duties as the director/editor of EV Obsession, Gas2, Solar Love, Planetsave, or Bikocity; or as president of Important Media. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, energy storage, and wind energy expert. If you would like him to speak at a related conference or event, connect with him via social media:, .

  • Bob_Wallace

    Looks like they stumbled on this ~ three year old article and wrote something up. Do you see any new info?

    Any performance data?

  • nitinph

    Some questions when I compare this to a flat panel system:
    1. What is the system throughput as compared to the flat panel? I mean you would need energy to spin the cone lowering the throughput?
    2. Amount of Si required might be less due to concentrator but the manufacturing cost may be higher as compared to the flat panel?

    • Bob_Wallace

      This little jewel was being talked about three years ago. The first thing I’d do is run a search and see if anything has been heard from it since.

      During a quick look on Google I heard crickets….

      I checked their web site and looked under News. Four articles, one of was this one under the headline “Clean Technica advocates V3SOLAR”. Do you see any public support of V3 here?

      A second one was also about three years old. I didn’t readily find a date for the other two.

  • art

    like the idea, quite dissapointing physics pr. i wonder how much stray light the spinning contraception harvests. if the concept of a 1,785 sqm meter cone surfave can harvest 10% of the photons from the surrounding surface their claim to have designed a 1 kw solar cell with a 1 M footpring bears some rights. for now the metrics are poor and physics flawed.

  • davidahn

    I’m no expert, but I’ve researched PV extensively and this sounds like a scam to get funding. I’d LOVE to see this really work, because I’m SICK of paying up to 37 cents/KWh during the summer, but I don’t see how spinning PV cells will INCREASE electricity production when only 1% of the sunlight is hitting the cone at just the right angle at a time, and 99% of the sunlight is NOT; in fact, 50-60% of the cells aren’t even hit by photons.

  • Denis Smith

    Very informative. But is it possible to do it ourselves or do we need to hire an elecrician? I think we may need a technician though some sites like this are claiming to make it possible ->

  • Trent Nicolajsen

    in our area most homes have spinning roof top vent’s. Many of these vent’s now have to be replaced, If you had a unit that worked as a air vent that would be, wonderful and if you made it like a globe you can also get reflective sun from snow or a mirror post. also it could double as a wind mill, 3 in one energy!!

  • Ian Thomas Ashmeade

    When I contacted the company about investing in it. I got an email immediately back, saying it was funded privately , but for a minimum investment of $50,000 I could join.
    Now if all you technical people can prove it is a scam, then why not tell your local police force to investigate it. As I suspect that there out in the world loads of people with $50,000 who would love to have a pretty shiny blue cone on their roof.
    At least it will be prettier than a satellite dish.


    After 25 years in photo-instrumentation (that means “lenses ‘n’ stuff”) and now a couple of years at the world’s largest manufacturer of space-qualified PV cells (that means our stuff sees more than one sunrise/sunset cycle per day and frequently gets very hot) tells me that this device is 100% balderdash.

    Let me ask this: okay, it floats on magnets (maglev? really? I’d be very surprised if this company could get even that part right, but I’ll be generous). How does the electricity get from the rotor to the stator? Brushes? Sliprings? Microwave beam? Friggin’ sharks with friggin’ lasers on their heads? Any data on the series resistance and/or efficiency of this magic transfer mechanism? I won’t hold my breath.

    Otherwise, all of the rest of it is pure nonsense. That is the smallest concentrator I have ever seen on a serious product (I’m not counting science fair projects). Indeed, I’m not sure I would consider it to be a concentrator at all since all it does is intercept light that would go to adjacent cells. Systems that use multijunction cells easily dissipate the extra heat with stationary heat sinks using “exotic” materials like copper. If the outside is hermetically sealed, the air circulation inside the cone will be insufficient to do what they claim. If the thing is anywhere near the efficiency they claim (uh, excuse me, 20x concentration does not mean 20x the electricity. 20 x 17% = 340%? Thermodynamic law violation. Even MJ cells only go from 27-31% under AM1 to ~44% under 100x or 1000x concentration, which is about 1.5x the electricity).

    Green flash? Really?! This is the first I have ever heard that if you filter most of the solar spectrum out, you get more power. Also, I’ve heard that they claim that they get additional boost from the IR energy (i.e. heat). Really? What is the bandgap of the cells they are they using? If that entire surface is multijunction III-V cells, it is extraordinarily expense. If it’s Si, then they are simply not getting enough current out of the cells.

    But there is simply no way that they are getting 30x concentration out of those axial lenses. Here’s a simply test anyone can do at home: in order to get 30x concentration, the area clear aperture of the lens needs to be at least 30x the spot to which it is concentrating. Assuming they have done their lens design well (I’d like to know how they account for chromatic aberration in a single layer lens), we could charitably say they might have a – I dunno, what’s that, a 2″ wide lens? and maybe they’re focusing on a 1/8″ wide line? – let’s call it 16x concentration. So how many problems with this are there? Well, first of all, none of the rest of the cell outside that 1/8″ line is getting a useful amount of light. Mathematically, the higher the concentration, the less cell receiving concentrated light, so they can’t go there. Neither are the adjacent cells getting much light because the light has been intercepted by the lens. A little further away, the cells are getting roughly the same amount of light as a flat panel, but not quite because the curvature means that incident illuminance per area is falling off at cos^2 or more. From 90 degrees off the sun around to the back, you get nothing. But you’re still paying for all of those unused cells. A conventional concentrator, on the other hand, uses a very inexpensive square Fresnel lens of say 10 cm on a side (100cm^2 area) to concentrate light onto a 1cm^2 cell (see how that works? 100 cm^2 / 1 cm^2 = 100x concentration). Every bit of that cell is in use, you aren’t paying for unused surface area. How is a device that has more than 90% of its surface going unused at any given time simultaneously less expensive *and* more efficient than a device that has 100% of its area in use at all times? Answer: it isn’t.

    Sure, the unused cells eventually rotate under the lens, but you don’t get any more power because the part that is no longer under the lens no longer generates any appreciable amount of power. With this design, the higher the concentration, the less surface area in use to produce power. You would do better to put a narrow line of cells directly under the lens, skip all of the fancy maglev nonsense, and install heatsinks and a muffin fan. But then you would have to point the lens at the sun – which incidentally there system does not do. Some part of a lens (I’d guess less than 5% of any lens) may be pointed at the sun at any given time, but not all parts of any lens are pointed at the sun at any given time. So the concentration effect is even worse with this system.

    Incidentally, how are the cells connected – solder or weld? How are they mounted to the mounting structure? For all of the Koolaid drinkers (and/or sockpuppets) questioning the naysayers, long term reliability is a serious consideration in this industry. There are a number of ISO and UL standards for testing how systems will *safely* stand up to things like thermal cycling, humidity, and even hail. PV devices generate *power*; you can get electrocuted and/or burn your house down if a short develops, coverglass breaks, etc. So yes, queries about the long term effects of UV on plastic is a real concern. However, I doubt this thing could generate enough power to be of any real concern.

  • Fritz Kreiss

    It’s a hoax, the science behind the design doesn’t hold up.

  • T. Craig Eschrich, IPV Energy

    Certainly a very excellent product development…..but… the saying goes, the devil is in the details and when we focus on 8 cents versus 12 cents, the problem I have is that the former is “production cost” versus the latter which is a “retail cost” to consumers. Not exactly apples to apples as comparisons go. This cost analysis such as it is, is the wrong baseline for comparison in my opinion and inadvertantly misdirects the discussion. “Cost structure” comparisons have a way of missing variables or not taking into account points at which the cost structure can be knocked out by greed in pricing say at an install level and the list goes on. My recommendation would be to observe “generally” that the cost of the technology is “competitive” and leave it at that……specifics can be addressed more accurately after the fact and this leaves us to ponder the technical wonders of the design, the manufacturability of it and a whole host of more “in this moment” kinds of considerations that make the technology the potential wonder that it is.
    Cost analysis to early on has always been a quagmire for renewable energy and has always been the starting point for the dialog of “intrigue”, but rarely has it been the finishing point at which the discussion results in a launch of the technology. Someone always manages to sqeeeeeeze the pricing to see how much it can be leveraged for rather than balancing the discussion with a purvasive benefit analysis. Just a thought…….

  • Josh Perlstein

    As an engineer who’s worked with PV before and understands the light-matter-interactions behind them, the fact that this article exists disappoints me. Utter rubbish.

  • CoCreatr

    Wow, 157 comments by now. Some would not IMHO pass this test:

  • Michael

    Brilliant technical horsepucky. I’ve been deeply embedded in solar technology for 35 years, and I’ve seen a few dozen out-of-the-box ideas promoted, from rock beds to thermal chimneys to eutectic salts to beer cans stomped flat, painted black and covered with glass to cold fusion.

    Without having to debate tech details, or knock lack of POC (proof of concept), I will predict that Spin Cell will never make it into the real world. With a bit of luck, the developers can creatively get enough interest to find some funding, maybe even a US government grant, grab the money and run. It’s a clever business model, often copied. And they deserve great credit for the brilliance of the technical nonsense. Well done.

  • wordwriter

    In my opinion this is a scam. Cliches, obfuscation, spin.

  • Stan Stein

    Oh brother…..waveform physics simply doesn’t allow for this contraption…..period.
    As far as capturing more photons, the cone would have to spin at a speed greater than that of light so to the incoming photons, all collectors on the cone would be catching them at the same time..(which is actually not at the same time, and can never be, as warp drive only exists on Star Trek)….because, only a few of the lenses are ever at a sun angle even capable of ingesting photons at any given time….there is a very good reason that there is no working prototype….and, this cone theory has been represented before…about a year ago, and also about 6 months ago….and like the giant 3000ft tall cylinder that was supposed to pump millions of gallons of water to the height of the 3000 ft (that’s 10 football fields folks) to cool enough air to fall and turn rotors, using no secondary power source, making it a perpetual motion machine, which the company bilked investors out of millions for….it is a sham….Zach, please explain to our fellow enthusiasts that unless there is a working prototype, Clean Technica is merely passing on some “in the media” gossip…not recognizing a viable technology……

  • Maury Markowitz

    This is totally bogus. Can’t you see that? Every number in their claims makes no sense whatsoever. Do the math, they’re claiming the panels cost negative dollars and they get 100% areal efficiency. Geez, do some math!

  • Kevin

    Okay, I finally got around to reading that “technical evaluation,” which isn’t technical at all. It’s just some hand-waving, an endorsement of the cooling concept, and a general statement about the advantages of concentrating PV. Yes, CPV can be cost effective when it allows for a much-reduced use of PV, but that’s not the case here, since you’re exposing a thin strip of PV but you still had to buy the entire cone.

    So let’s see here … you’re going to take standard, square solar cells and somehow assemble them into a cone and wire it all up in some efficient manner. Seems problematic already. Now you’re going to set that spinning. The spinning is shown to create a cooling effect, but you’re encasing that cone in a plastic or glass cover, which will probably obviate the cooling effect. More problems.

    Then you’re going to use the PV power to energize a generator coil for power production. Whaaa??? Efficiency losses and big questions about what’s keeping the cone spinning and concerns about this being a perpetual motion machine. Okay, let’s ignore that and assume they get intelligent and go with a simple inverter … but then you’ve got electrical pickups on a spinning top. Efficiency losses, too much maintenance, etc.

    Simply put, this is taking simple solar cells and doing a whole lot of expensive things to them to try to come up with a fancier way for them to make power. I’d say this is and will always be an economic loser.

  • Ty Emzone

    Read the article and comments … and I have no reason to think, at this point, that this is not an elaborate hoax. But let me know when more performance data is available. Thx.

  • kinobayeddie


  • kinobayeddie


  • gary schofield

    The idea and design are obviously paradigm shifting. I think the real potential lies in the Mobile Energy Production systems [decentralization of the grid]. The spinning, concentration and tracking seem to be the biggest issues [along with the heat dissipation]. Look at Infinia Corp’s design Looks like there’s an opportunity to combine the 2 technologies–perhaps with a 3rd.

  • malco

    The whole concept looks highly misleading, frankly. And the idea of producing AC power directly-sorry, but you’re going to burn up any AC appliances at any time the power is too low, and the voltage drops.

    But I was still willing to “listen and learn”, until I watched the video.

    Gimme a break. Alice in Wonderland has nothing on this thing. Woo wooooooo!

    • MightyDrunken

      I agree that the presentation they give is far too optimistic. However they do say in that the AC power would go through the same electronics used by windfarms designed to smooth the power. You wouldn’t connect them directly to an appliance.

  • Photon Wrangler

    Uhg. This “company” again. They’ve been making bizarre claims for
    years now with this silly spinning solar cone thing. Take it from
    someone who actually makes a living in this industry, building real live
    systems that make real live money for real live customers: this is a
    dud. It was a dud years ago. It’s still a dud. It offers only
    increased complexity with no real advantage for the bottom line.

    it technically work? Sure. Would it be cost competitive with fixed,
    flat plate collectors, dual axis trackers, or CPV? No. Not even
    close. Just check out the management team on their website. It’s a
    joke. One that’s been going on for too long.

    • Keef Wivaneff

      Here’s Chris De Luded

      Trusted News Trader
      Where truth comes in to play™

      He’s been called an Autistic Savant, bi-polar, multi-polar, empath…but no one has figured out how his mind works they way it does.

      By:Oldman Jr
      Date: 1/26/2010, 12:42 am

      Christoph Karl LaDue was interviewed (via conscious media network) in November, 2009.

      He is a most unusual man. A few tidbits of the interview follow…out of context of course…but they might encourage you to check out the interview, which is free…

      RM is Regina Meredith and CL is Christoph LaDue

      CK: And if you look at it in multidimensional space, or in mathematics, xyz ratios, everything in this cosmos is ratio and scale. It’s not about size; it’s not about mass. It’s not about any of that. That’s all an illusion.

      CL: And I’d get depressed. I’ve been called an Autistic Savant. I’ve been called bi-polar. I’ve been called multi-polar. I’ve been called empathic. I’ve had more psychiatrists and psychologists—believe me—try to examine me, try to figure out why I do what I do, and nobody really knows.

      CL: OK. My grandmother dragged me off to church, and my mother would be running around espousing Marx and Lennon. Religion is the panacea of the people. So, it got really weird at my house, at times.

      RM: Really conflicted information, but that’s OK . . .

      CL: But it was good. Conundrums are a good thing.

      RM: You were left to thrive. Yeah, exactly.

      CL: Conundrums are a good thing.

      RM: And, you understand this in science, too.

      CL: Right.

      RM: Yes.

      CL: So, conundrums are good. Everything is a conundrum, one way or the other. If you can’t get through conundrums, you’re not going to get away from paradox. If you can’t get away from paradox, you’re not going to get away from duality.

      CL: The Who’s at the end of the snowflake. To me a photon and an electron have a personality and a signature; they have a heart.

      RM: Now, that information you just said, right there, is that really elemental to the encryption and other things that you have done? Is this uniqueness . . .

      CL: Well, it’s elemental to what I think we need to understand about life. That we are not carbon copy clones. And physics has always said well, every photon is the same; every electron is the same. People are saying now, well, maybe that’s not true.

      RM: Mmmhmm

      CL: And the only differentiation is angular momentum and how you perceive it at that moment. Well, one of the fallacies of quantum mechanics is that by observing an object, you change that object. No. By observing that object you get hung up in Time; you change yourself, and the object changes you.

      RM: Oh, interesting!

      CL: Who are we to think that we change anything in Nature? I think it’s rather arrogant and obstinate and shallow to say that we have the ability to change anything in Nature.

      RM: Mmmhmm.

      CL: We are the ones that are being changed by Nature. The consciousness of Gaia; the consciousness of this cosmos changes us. Who the hell are we thinking that we are changing anything! It’s absurd; it’s amazing. Who are we to think we should dominate anything?

  • Hans

    The article talks about “integrated tracking”, I guess what is meant is: because of the round shape, always some part of the cone is facing the sun. A little thought experiment will show to show that this kind of “tracking” will reduce the energy yield instead of increasing it.

    If you have a single flat module the total annual yield is maximised when the module is tilted towards the south (at least when you are on the northern hemisphere). The optimal tilt angle depends on the latitude and the ratio between direct and diffuse light. If you change the tilt or orientation your annual yield will decrease.

    So, if you have two modules and you orient one to the south-east and one to the south-west each module will produce less than when it would have been oriented to the south. The sum of both yields is than of course also less than when both modules would have been oriented at the south. This doesn’t change when you have more modules. If you have lots of modules and you put them in a circle, their annual yield will be less than if they would all have been placed in a plain old straight line facing the south.

    The cone of the article is nothing more than several module circles placed on top of each other. So one can conclude that the yield of a cone shaped module is lower than that of a simple flat module with the same amount of solar cells.

    • MightyDrunken

      The spin cell design concentrates sun light onto a much smaller PV solar cell. In your thought experiment you say, “So, if you have two modules and you orient one to the south-east and one
      to the south-west each module will produce less than when it would
      have been oriented to the south”.

      Of course to do that you need two solar panels and twice the area and therefore twice the cost. The point of the spin cell design is to reduce cost. So the cone concentrates the sun, it is not the PV cells themselves.

      ” Bottom line is the Levelized Cost of Energy (LCOE).”

      • Hans

        1) You confuse tracking with concentration.

        2) “Of course to do that you need two solar panels and twice the area and therefore twice the cost.”

        Yes, and what I am trying to get across is that this is exactly what the con(e) guys are doing. From all the solar cells on their cone only a few will have an optimal orientation (i.e. perpendicular to the direct sunlight). If they would put the same amount of cells in a simple flat collector it will receive more sunlight and the overall yield will be higher.

        • MightyDrunken

          1) Tracking is not required because the cone design faces all directions equally and concentrates the same amount of light no matter the direction of the sun.

          2) There is only one PV cell.

          • Hans

            Man, you are indeed mighty drunken. Or you are a “stupidity troll”, i.e. someone pretending to be stupid to aggravate reasonable people trying to explain something to you.

            One last attempt:

            1) The point that I try to get across is that having a conical module shape, that faces all directions, gives a lower yield than a flat panelwith a fixed position facing the south.

            2) The image you link to does not show the conical shape, so obviously it must be just a part of the cell.

          • MightyDrunken

            I know your point, unfortunately my full explanation was eaten so I was very concise in my previous post. My point is that this design is not trying to get the maximum amount of electricity from an area.

            It is trying to get the maximum amount of energy from the amount paid. Your design is more efficient in terms of space (higher energy density), V3 Solar’s in terms of cost. See my first post.

            2) The diagram I linked to suggests the collecting error is 1m2 and the PV cell is 20 times smaller. Another diagram above suggests that the diameter of the cone is 1m. If we assume the height is also 1m we get 1.7m2 surface area. Their website also states, ” The outer cone is larger and focuses the light on the smaller, inner cone that is populated with PV.”. Therefore the information present suggests there is approximately 20 times less pv material then a flat panel to capture the same amount of light.

            So yes, assuming the PV cells are arranged on a smaller inner cone shape some of the PV cells will be in shade and unused. However this is more efficient in terms of PV material than a flat panel because the collecting surface is much larger relative to the size of the PV cell.

          • Hans

            You almost got my point. The issue is getting the maximum amount of light on your PV-cells. It seems you agree with me, that without concentration a cone shaped PV-module will receive less light per surface area than a normal, optimally oriented, flat plate PV-module.

            Now let see if there is real concentration going on.

            The video and images clearly show a inner cone with PV-cells that is only a little bit smaller than the outer cone. Any concentration of the cone will therefore only redistribute the light to a inhomogeneous pattern, i.e. the some parts of the inner cone will get more light than before, other parts less. The amount of light reaching the inner cone will remain the same.

            The images also show a sort of glass ribs, which are most likely the lenses. Furthermore the company website says: “The tubular lens produce substantial concentration of available light in light bands which effectively sweep over the moving PV.”

            All this confirms that there is no real concentration, only a redistribution of the same amount of light over the same area. Next to the light bands there will be dark bands.

          • Bob_Wallace

            “However this is more efficient in terms of PV material than a flat panel because the collecting surface is much larger relative to the size of the PV cell.”

            Every drawing I see shows a cone of PV covered by a slightly larger cone of transparent material.

            I do not see a collector surface 30x the size of the PV cells.

            I see no concentrating lens/mirrors.

            I see most of the PV cells pointed away from the Sun at all times.

            1. Make yourself a cone out of a piece of paper and some tape.
            2. Shine a flashlight on one side and see how much of the rest of the cone “lights up”.

          • MightyDrunken

            Yet the word description states all over the place that the design concentrates the sunlight on a much smaller amount of PV. If you simply ignore most of what they say then you will obviously get a different answer.

            As I have tried to explain multiple times it does not matter very much if some of the cells are in shade if the design uses far less PV cells anyway to get a similar amount of power. They even put this as an advantage because it means the PV cells do not get as hot. Though I think they cheated a bit in the temperature tests by not using a constant light source.

            So lets go through it again. PV cells are on a cone, therefore at least 50% is in the shade. So 50% of the PV cells are wasted at any one time. Yet they claim that they use 20 times less PV cells due to concentrating the light. So at best, despite having the cells on a cone, they surface area of PV cells vs amount of power generated is 10 times greater than a flat panel.
            Though they say 20 times due to some other “handwaving” benefits.

          • Bob_Wallace

            If you uncritically accept what they say you get one thing. If
            you look at the pictures they’ve drawn you get another.

            “As I have tried to explain multiple times it does not matter very much if some of the cells are in shade if the design uses far less PV cells anyway to get a similar amount of power.”

            You are assuming a similar amount of power. There is no data to support that assumption, only “handwaving”.

            It’s not just that 50% of the cells are in the shade (those facing 90% or more from perpendicular from the Sun) but also the 30% of the cells that are 45% off, they are losing 30% of the sunlight that hits them and reflects off. Only those cells +/- 10% of perpendicular are contributing anything like their rated output.

            A 20% sweet spot means that roughly 80% of all PV cells are not functioning.


            Furthermore, unless each cell is electrically isolated those which are not performing are bringing the output of the others down. Just 10% shading of a solar array can lead to a 50% decline in


            So, perhaps 20% of all cells are functioning at any one time. Unless the individual cells are isolated the output of those 20% is likely cut in half, producing 10% of what the same number of cells on a flat surface would produce.

            (They may be thinking that they will isolate the cells – that “a hypothesis currently being tested is that a “cascade effect” can occur as cells are cycled through the sequence of illuminations by different lenses in the spin cell” – will isolate when they build a prototype.)

            ” They even put this as an advantage because it means the PV cells do not get as hot.”

            They also have said that heat is not a problem for concentrated solar when concentration is less than 100x.

            ” they claim that they use 20 times less PV cells due to concentrating the light”

            Now here’s the big, big problem.

            In their artwork they show a cone covered with PV cells. Over that is a slightly larger transparent cone.

            In order to concentrate 20x or 30x suns on a surface one has to 1) collect 20x or 30x as much light as the PV cell and 2) focus that light from a wide beam to a narrow beam.

            They (inadvertently) illustrate that in their line drawing of the inverted cone in the above text. Imagine that the top circle is a focusing lens. It is 30x larger than the receptor at the bottom of the cone. Due to its larger area it captures a lot of light. And then due to its optical characteristics it focuses that column of light onto a small spot, 30 times smaller.

            Now, please carefully study all the drawing presented by the cone people and see if you can find somewhere that large amounts of light are captured and focused. You’re looking for a surface 20x, 30x larger than the PV cone.

            Look at the cluster of cones. The third piece of artwork from the top. Where’s the 20x, 30x capture occurring?

            Since about 80% of the cells are out of the game at any one time the capture surface would have to be 80x, 120x of the PV cone surface.

            (And look at how the artist making the picture added shading to the part of the cones which face away from the white sunbeams.)

          • Bob_Wallace

            MD – go outside and stand in the sunshine.

            Face the Sun (keep your eyes closed).

            Feel the heat? That’s energy striking your face.

            Turn 180 degrees.

            Feel the heat on the back side of your head and how much cooler your face is? Now your face is not receiving as much energy as it was when you were facing the Sun.

            By putting PV cells on a cone face most of the PV is not facing the Sun at any given moment. Only the part facing the Sun is going to be producing much electricity.

          • MightyDrunken

            “By putting PV cells on a cone face most of the PV is not facing the Sun at any given moment. Only the part facing the Sun is going to be producing much electricity.”

            The PV cells are not on the cone face!

          • Bob_Wallace

            Where are they?

            When I look at the video – 30 seconds in – I see PV cells on a spinning cone.

            When I look at their drawing at the top, the one that has the “1 meter” labels, I see what looks like PV cells attached to a cone and another clear cone over it.

            Where do you think the PV cells are?

          • MightyDrunken

            As it says on the webpage entitled “Read this first” on the v3Solar website.

            “The outer cone is larger and focuses the light on the smaller, inner cone that is populated with PV.”

            Also the blurb of the devices benefits states,

            “Through the concentration of sunlight, the Spin Cell uses only 5% of the amount of PV as flat panels to produce the same power, thus reducing the cost/watt.”

            This would not be possible if the outer cone was where the pv cells were located.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Here’s what I wrote…

            “When I look at their drawing at the top, the one that has the “1 meter” labels, I see what looks like PV cells attached to a cone and another clear cone over it.”

            I did not claim that the cells were on the outer cone.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Well said.

      And people shouldn’t overlook the fact that 1/4th of the modules are facing north. Away from the Sun.

      Also, there seems to be no provision for seasonal tracking as the Sun track rises and falls in the sky.

  • Eric Simard

    Lovely, great, amazing, but what we need is NOT another multinational making billions to save money for the rich. what we DO need, is for them to release the details, research and future plans to the general public. Get the general public involved and make this project move world wide. We need to fix the energy problem 100%, not 3%. So is this going to be another amazing idea and discovery that can change the world that will be under copyright protection for the benefit and greedy profit of a single entity, or will someone at the top FINALLY get his head out of his ass and SHARE, Accept world wide help, and therefore cut the investment need by a single entity, increase development speed and accuracy and finally for once, really fix the problem?

  • Donald Scott

    Why can’t the heat generated be recycled into the building? Especially in northern latitudes.

  • Robert

    Not sure if this will be helpful for anyone, but some people like to watch a movie more than read (for you highly technical people…it does not give any more specifics). For those who want to better understand the market and economic advantages, I hope you enjoy:

    • ajcarpy2005

      It’s a good video.
      How does a cone that has a cross-section of half a meter capture 1 Kw when the available Scientific estimation is the average energy of solar radiation per meter is 1 Kw. We don’t want your patent secrets, just a clue how that happens.

      Best Regards, Andrew

      • Hans

        Actually, 1 kW per meter squared is the solar radiation at which solar modules are rated. The average solar radiation is below that.

  • Bob_Wallace

    I’ve read Rever’s report a few times. Here are a few things that I read…

    “V3 Solar is currently at the stage of trying to reduce the concept to a working prototype”

    I.e., there is no existing cone that can be tested. Therefore, no performance data.

    “Captures light from the full hemisphere of the sky to maximize the use of available insolation”

    I find it very hard to believe that there are 19 Suns of reflected light that are going to come in from directions not pointed at the Sun. Were that the case we could mount solar panels on the north slope of roofs.

    Just a few degrees off “directly facing the Sun” greatly reduces panel output.

    ” Although normally one sun cells are not fully optimal for higher concentrations, current test data on the V3Solar Spin Cell shows 20X greater current production and an additional 20% higher voltage under 20X concentration during the dynamic spin.”

    How did he measure this if there is no working prototype?

    “Finally, a hypothesis currently being tested is that a “cascade effect” can occur as cells are cycled through the sequence of illuminations by different lenses in the spin cell.”

    So, there’s no data that says that the cascade effect will work for their device. That tells me that their claims are way out ahead of their proof.

    The rest of the page is basically filler.

    • Robert

      It shows the test results of the cascading right in the report. There is a graph that shows the stairstepping of energy (I don’t know how to put a graph in here, but it is right in the report). Are you doubting Bill Rever? They both have stellar reputations.

      Nectar is clearly testing early stage prototypes before a complete manufacturing prototype is developed. This is the standard process in developing a new technology. They are not just pulling these tests out of thin air. From the report, “The tests referred to in this report are those done by V3 Solar and by Nectar Design. As an aside, I was impressed first by the fact that V3 Solar has chosen to “do the homework” rather than simply building something without really understanding it (which would provide little direction for improvement), and second by their hiring of a firm of experienced design engineers who have many years of experience and a positive but no-nonsense attitude about investigating the Spin Cell concept.” During development, as specific aspects are proven, it is not unreasonable to extrapolate costs and results. When Toyota builds a new engine, they know how it will perform by computer modeling before they mass produce the actual engine. They have to determine the exact distance and concentration for the lensing. The proper PV and bus line design. It is a process. They have obviously already proven a lot. All that I am saying is that we should not hold a new technology that is being developed to the same standard as a product that is in commercial production.

      • Bob_Wallace

        How do you know that Bill Rever and Nectar Design have stellar reputations?

        I searched for Rever and all I found is that worked in the field for 30 years and that he is now working as an independent consultant. From that we don’t know if he has a stellar reputation or if he might have been put out to pasture because he’s getting senile.

        I’ve never heard of Nectar before. I’ve never seen them cited as a testing lab for any energy technology. And we don’t know anything about how that graph was generated. The cone people could have lifted it from an unrelated project that Nectar did.

        Check out their work. They seem to be a design company (as their name suggests).

        And look at their services. I don’t see basic research into solar cell performance.

        Here’s what they say they do…

        “We convert client needs and desires into winning products. Our process is rigorous and begins with user-centric research followed by iterative analysis and design. We apply appropriate resources to partner with your team, and guide the process until we convert your vision to vital outcomes.”

        They do not claim to be a testing lab. They help people sell stuff.

        I certainly agree that we shouldn’t how a new idea to the same standard as a product in production. But we should be careful to not simply accept the claim that an idea works when there is no proof. I see no proof.

        If these people have something of value they’re going to have to build a working prototype and turn it over to a major independent lab for verification. So far it seems like smoke and mirrors to me.

  • James Van Damme

    “Don’t believe everything you see on the Internet.’ –Abraham Lincoln.

    Well, it looks like a Hershey Kiss, so I like it.

  • Kimgerly

    I formally ‘poked a number of holes’ in this technology last year at SolarphaseC’s expense. To be ‘kind’, sounds like a good idea, but they have quite a way to go on the R&D. Let’s just say, for starters, they never satisfactorily answered any of my heat transfer and manufacturing process questions–a few points already raised in this thread. And, I’ve actually had dialogue with the former electrical engineer who affirmed my assertion that this technology’s patent is POORLY written. Not to mention, he also affirmed my assertion that claims made by the inventor that have yet to be verified in the laboratory with performance data. Um, yeah, red flag. In general, until I see actual, in-the-field performance metrics, this technology is dubious, at best.

    • David Fuchs

      Physics is physics, math is math, and the technology as described is wrong on to many levels to be correct or work as advertised.

      • Kimgerly

        Not sure if you understood the nature of my response David. Solicitous ==> concerned, uneasy, and I affirm, first-hand, enquiries made in this regard.

      • Kimgerly

        Snarky and testy, ja.

        I think you misunderstand that I am not negating your assertions. Furthermore, without breaching any confidence i ensured SolarPhaseC I would adhere to, I was mostly interested in better understanding one aspect. How they managed the spinning attribute of this design, overcoming inertia at start-up and maintaining the spin. I thought if they had indeed achieved a break-through, this would demonstrate merit, perhaps something similar to maglev. However, they never satisfactorily answered my heat transfer questions.

        • David Fuchs

          Which heat transfer question. The one that magically allows for 3 kW of heat to be disparate from 500 sq cm, or 6 w per cm^2 with a cone spinning at 1 cps?

  • Kimgerly

    I formally ‘poked a number of holes’ in this technology last year at SolarphaseC’s expense. To be ‘kind’, sounds like a good idea, but they have quite a way to go on the R&D. Let’s just say, for starters, they never satisfactorily answered any of my heat transfer and manufacturing process questions–a few points already raised in this thread. And, I’ve actually had dialogue with the former electrical engineer who affirmed my assertion that this technology’s patent is POORLY written. Not to mention, he also affirmed my assertion that claims made by the inventor that have yet to be verified in the laboratory with performance data. Um, yeah, red flag. In general, until I see actual, in-the-field performance metrics, this technology is dubious, at best.

  • Hans

    Cleantechnica did it again: uncritically echoing some press release by dubious “inventors”. You already had so many of this kind of articles of BS-inventions. When will you learn?

    My tip for the Cleantechnica editors: 1) take a basic physics course. 2) If this is to hard, because you more of a word-person than an equation person check with an expert.

    Also some rules of thumb:

    I) if it sounds to good to be true, it is probably not true
    II) extra-ordinary claims require extra-ordinary evidence
    III) silver bullets do not exist.

    • David Fuchs

      They can check with me if they need to. I always do best case on other peoples designs, to give them the benefit of the doubt, and worst possible case on all the engineering I do.

      This way I can not be called biased where other peoples designs are concerned. For my designs I over kill the engineering, cost estimates, and numbers to the point where there is no doubt I am right. I learned that from Scotty on Star Trek. 😀

    • Bob_Wallace

      Hans, I think you’re overplaying your hand.

      The number of “too good to be true” posts on this site seem, to me, to be few.

      If you’ve got data that proves differently then please share.

    • Zachary Shahan

      Hans, could you share the large number of other posts to which you are referring? Quite frankly, we don’t cover a lot of very nascent technology. We mostly cover the current market, advancements in current technology, and scientific advancements from reputable universities and research labs.

      • Hans

        Sorry, I have got other things to do than to keep statistics. But I would say every two/three months there is an article that present BS inventions. In my reaction to Bob (which seems to hang in the spamfilter or something) I say that most articles here are very readable. However you guys tend to pass on press-releases without questioning the contents. It is the job of a journalist to question things. You have been reporting in this field long enough now to have some basic understanding of the underlying physics of renewable energies that would allow you to develop a BS detector.

        Some windturbine examples: flodesign, “bird-safe” windturbines, windlens. Nicolas Brown appears to be the most naive of your editors. The search-enegine on Cleantechnica has a bug which does not allow you to get to the second search page (looks like a new search is created with the spaces between the words removed), so it is difficult to find back other examples I have in my head.

        • Bob_Wallace

          Yes, you did have one post in the Spam folder. It’s released now. (I can’t figure out why Disqus trapped it. It didn’t even have a link included which will often cause comments to be trapped.)

          I agree with the occasional non-critical cut and paste “journalism” that happens from time to time. I’d love to see some of the writers raise their game. I suspect the folks writing the pieces would get more page hits/make more money if they put a bit more into their output, at least in terms of the quick copy stuff.

          In Zach’s defense, this piece got daylight largely because a very knowledgeable person in the solar business suggested it to Zach.

          And, yes, the search function is broken. I saw that a couple of days back and forgot to inform Zach. Thanks for the removed space observation. I’ll copy out your sentence and email it to him.

        • Zachary Shahan

          Hello. Some very good points, and points taken.

          And yes, we’ve cut down a ton on covering the technologies less likely to succeed. I agree that flodesign and similar wind turbine stories were probably a mistake, not worth covering. Over the years, I’ve learned to weed a lot of those out, and have passed on caution about them to our writers.

          We’ll continue to work to on covering technologies that might have a chance (or, with most of our content, are making an impact today).

          That said, there are a few things to note:

          1. This specific technology was reviewed by Bill Rever ( a true solar technology expert: ) without any apparent yellow or red flags. It is being seriously considered by a top solar investor i trust. It is still being tested, but if Bill Rever doesn’t bring up any fatal flaws, i’m inclined to continue giving it a shot. We won’t be publishing anything else on it, i think, unless it has a successful production prototype developed and evaluated by a reputable 3rd party. I sent a request for input from NREL last week and am awaiting a response from its solar PV head scientist. If something substantial comes of that, we could also be stimulated into publishing something else on it, but we’ll see.

          2. Bloggers are not the same as journalists. The NYTimes is struggling to survive; the media environment has changed a ton; how most people consume news has changed; and a completely journalistic model is a hard one to find much success with these days. We have to incorporate a balance between that ideal, the pressures of the day, and our goals. With all that said, CleanTechnica has grown into quite a reputable and heavily read site, so i do think we need to keep improving on the evaluation we put into stories we cover. I’m focused on helping the world, not simply catching eyeballs. So, for technical pieces that seem beyond our expertise, i’ll try to make sure we run stories by more people. (You interested in being one of those people?)

          3. of course, if i were covering the telephone industry back when the first cell phone was invented, i’d feel like quite the idiot if i passed up on the story simply because i didn’t fully understand every detail of the tech and didn’t have any contacts who could evaluate it. i’m sure there are better examples, but the point is that new technologies that do succeed are often overlooked or not well understood by ‘experts’ in the field when they first come out (otherwise, they would have already been out). we publish thousands of stories a year — we aren’t NREL or the DOE or MIT, so we simply have to strike a balance between covering potentially useful new technologies and avoiding ones that look questionable. happy to bounce potential stories off you from time to time if you’re interested in helping in that capacity! 😀

          • Hans

            Hi Zach, thanks for your detailed reply.

            First of all: I like Cleantechnica. My comments are “though love”. I already told in another comment why stories like this irritate me so much. I know that this is not the place for investigative journalism and you are not engineers or physicists. But I still think that you should have some basic skills that let you recognise possible canards. Some more tips:

            Be extremely sceptical if:

            1) If a company can only present computer graphics and a website.
            2) If the description of the technology is written to impress with sciency words, rather than to explain the principle clearly.
            3) If the claims are extra-ordinary
            4) if the claims are not consistent with physical laws, like conservation of energy or Betz law.

            I also think that if you are almost exclusively reporting on renewable energy technologies you should spent some time on learning the basics, it helps to ask the right questions.

            About volunteering for fact checking, I feel honoured, but I cannot introduce another time-consuming hobby project into my life.

          • Zachary Shahan

            Appreciate it. Thanks. Will try to incorporate that extreme skepticism more.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Good advice Hans.

      Perhaps a few people with strong backgrounds might volunteer to be pre-publication reviewers for this sort of article.

  • Gary Tulie

    Why not simply water cool the concentrated solar cell in the same way as the Israeli company Zenith Solar? That way you get power and hot water.

    Does anyone know if Zenith Solar is still in business?

  • Zachary Shahan

    Been awhile since we’ve seen such a lively discussion here. Some responses (and repetition of what I wrote above):

    -They’re currently working on a production prototype. That’s the step they’re on. (As stated in the article.)

    -Clearly, no one knows if it will pan out as planned or not.

    -I don’t know the exact inner workings of an iPhone, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t work. Again, we don’t know if this will work as stated/planned, but let’s not assume that simply because we don’t understand the details of something, that it won’t work.

    -It’s well known that CPV would slam PV out of the market if its heat issue were addressed. Does this really address it? Apparently. Is it really CPV? Looks like it. Is it as good as presented by the company, and going to come in at the projected (“conservative”) cost or not? We’ll see.

    -If it does come in at this cost within the year, as targeted, this is a big deal. If it doesn’t, it’s another failed attempt and conventional PV continues to dominate the market.

    -I’ve got more details on how the tech works, but I didn’t want to get *too* technical here. If you want to see more, let me know and I’ll see what I’m allowed to share.

    • Bob_Wallace

      I’m certainly willing to wait to see if they can demonstrate their technology, but I’m probably going to remain highly skeptical until then.

      My skepticism could be lowered if there was some information about how this is suppose to work, under the cone.

      They claim 30x concentration. That would require a collecting surface 30x the size of their PV cell. You only get 30 suns if you gather 30 suns. Since they are using a 1/20th square meter sensor they would need 1.5 sq meters of collector surface.

      I don’t see anywhere close to 30x collecting surface, unless you cut the cone up one side and flattened it out.

      I don’t see a concentrating mechanism, such as a lens. Even if they gather more suns than their sensor there has to be a way to bend and focus that light so that it hits the sensor rather than going out the backside/wherever.

      Then the heat issue. If all it took is spinning the cone to deal with the heat in a concentrating solar system then CSP should need only a small amount of filtered air flowing between collector/focusing lens and PV. Low tech, small cost. Problem would have been solved back in the 1970s when the Arco panels were baked into brownies.

      Then they throw in the cascading stuff. I’ve read something about cascading and solar but (without going back to check) I think it has to do with how you pull the power from the chip, not how you put it in.

      I’ll try to dig into that later.

      • Kevin

        Bob, if you watch the video, the exterior cone seems to have a many beads of glass that run from the tip to the bottom, serving as lenses. So a PV cell on this cone would pass through one or more bright bands of sunlight as it rotates, causing it to put out bursts of power, without staying under that bright band long enough to overheat.

        The question is, how does the PV react to this uneven exposure? It would normally be a problem to have half your system in shade, but maybe it all spins fast enough that the entire cone is generating power all the time … I have no idea how quickly PV cells react to sunlight, or how quickly they would discharge after passing under the bright bands. If the answer is “quickly,” maybe they only pull power from the sun-exposed side? But that would require some fancy switching.

        The more troubling part to me is that they don’t just pull off the PV power, they use it to somehow generate electricity from the spinning cone, much like a conventional generator. I can’t see how you would do this without significant system loses, and that would lead to a losing technology. It would help a lot if they explain the motive force for the spinning. Zachary, can you provide any insight there?

        • Kevin

          P.S. One of the advantages of roof-mounted PV systems is: no moving parts. You definitely lose that advantage with this system.

        • Bob_Wallace

          Sorry, I don’t see where you’re getting some of your information.

          Are the pieces of glass in the outer cone simply glass? Do you see somewhere that says they are lenses?

          Do you see an interior ‘spinning cone of PV’? If so, then most of the sensor would be out of the sunlight most of the time. That wouldn’t work.

          If you have a 30x sun concentration on anything inside the device then stuff is going to get hot. Unless you reflect that light back out which would mean that you aren’t using it.

          Stick your hand under a magnifying glass. If you leave it in one place then that spot on your hand will get very hot. If you move it around your hand is receiving the same amount of heat, it’s just distributed around your hand so that no single spot is smoking.

        • Zachary Shahan

          sorry, just seeing this comment. regarding the last question: no, i’m not aware of that. haven’t looked at the full technical specs, though.

      • David Fuchs

        Bob_Wallace “Then the heat issue. If all it took is spinning the cone to deal with the heat in a concentrating solar system then CSP should need only a small amount of filtered air flowing between collector/focusing lens and PV.”

        The problem is at 24% efficiency the unit is pulling 4 kW into ~1/3 cubic meter of space with 3/4 of that being waste heat. The unit would cook itself in a matter of minutes.

    • ajcarpy2005

      Yes, Yes, very interested in the details such as what efficiencies the individual cells achieve over an average timespan. My hypothesis is that in addition to 20X concentration, the spinning action is increasing cell efficiency.

  • anderlan

    If everything is off the shelf and total cost is 8c/kW, where’s the demo units?

    • Bob_Wallace

      I want to say that they are being constructed in an apartment in Florida, but that would be a catty thing to say…. ;o)

      • David Fuchs

        Snarky .. :)

        • Kent Goertzen

          actually dicky is more apt. He has no place being a mod given how he treats posters.

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  • SlowMoneyGreen

    The cone is mag-lev, so there’s no reason this thing should ‘wear out’ prematurely. It’s made from materials that have been in use for decades. We know how to build all these subsystems separately to last decades, and there’s no reason to prematurely assume this tech cannot survive 30 years outdoors.

    Some of these criticisms below are just ridiculous: Oh no! There’s a $100 plastic cover that may need to be replaced, if it clouds up over time. It spins, and moving things can break! Let’s Scrap the tech! WTH kind of insights are these?!

    • David Fuchs

      Fine you want insights, lets do the numbers …

      A circle with a diameter of 1 meter has an area of 0.785 square meters.
      A cone of 1 m high and 1 m wide has a cross section of 0.5 square meters.

      With the suns output being 1 kW m^2 …
      at 24% eff with 0.785 m^2 (sun on top) the max power output is 188.4 W
      at 24% eff with 0.5 m^2 (sun on side) the max power output is 120 W

      No where near the magical over-unity 1kWp they mention on their site.

      With a unit cost of $797 …
      $797 div 188.4 W = $4.23 per Watt
      $797 div 120.0 W = $6.64 per Watt

      Using “fairy” (reads BS) math and using the full surface area of the cone at 1.7562 m2 its still 421 Watts at $1.89 per Watt.

      No where near the 59 cent per Watt mentioned above.

      • Bob_Wallace

        They claim 1/20th of a meter of PV surface.

        What I don’t see in the cone is:

        1) Very much area facing the Sun at any one point in time. Sides and back are out of the game. Even faces more that 10% off dead center aren’t going to contribute much.

        2) No mechanism for concentrating the electricity that is collected.

        Is each facet of the cone supposed to be a carefully designed lens that takes the light that hits its outer face and bends a concentrated beam onto the patch of PV?

        If so, how does it adjust for annual changes in Sun angle?

        Is magic somehow involved?

        • David Fuchs

          1) I was going to go down that route also (10%-20%), then I realized it would be speculation. So instead I gave the design the greatest possible absorption area so there were no doubts about the numbers. .5 m^2 from the side as if it was a flat triangular panel (cone cut top down) and .785 m^2 from the top ( a 1 meter circle ).

          2) Yes fairy magic and fairy math is involved in the design and implementation. 😛

          … 3) For the unit to pull in 1 kWp, at 24% eff, it would require ~4 m^2. (4 kWp) from the side, or a cone 2.84 meters tall (~9 feet). Designed for sunlight from the top, it would be a little shorter.

          … 4) Their number for the multiple on the solar panel are off.
          For a 30 times multiple on a 1/20 m^2 (500 sq cm or 22 cm^2 or 8.68 inches^s). That is 1.5 m^s.

          – 1.5 m^2 that’s 3x the side surface area, or 2x the surface area from the top.

          – But wait for the unit to generate 1 kWp at 24% you need 4 m^2 of surface area not 1.5 m^s. Something doesn’t jive here….

          Okay fairy magic time, gravity generator to pull in more light.

    • Bob_Wallace

      These are not “insights”. These are reasonably skeptical questions.

      What you (whomever) are presenting in concept form is very unusual and, some of us are having trouble grasping the concept. There presentation is not adequate for some, at least me, to understand.

      Here’s the #1 problem I have with believing that it works.

      I get my electricity from solar panels. I know that if you don’t keep the panels facing the Sun you get generate a lot less electricity.

      This cone has only a tiny amount of its surface facing the Sun at any one time. I do not see how you are collecting sunlight in order to concentrate it.

      In order to make me a believer I need to see some damned good data.

      I don’t see a working prototype that has been tested by an independent lab.

      I see only heat data. The outside cone is sealed and if put in the sunlight it heats up. If you spin it you can (apparently) create an air exchange and cool off the innards.

      This just reminds me too much of the 1960s when people were putting their perishable food under pyramids to keep it from spoiling.

      • David Fuchs

        @Bob_Wallace:disqus I posted the math that shows that this doesn’t seem to work in response to SlowMoneyGreen did you delete it or is in moderation?

        • Bob_Wallace

          It got trapped by the Spam filter. I just approved it. It should appear soon.

          (Sometimes Disqus is slow to respond, so hang on.)

          • David Fuchs

            Thanks !!

  • David Fuchs

    I just realized something. This is set to be released in 2014, at 59 cents/Wp that puts them behind the cost curve. It is the same thing that destroyed Solyndra.

  • CoCreatr

    you for sharing. Once there is a working prototype, I would like to see
    real life measurements of power under varied angles and degradation
    curves, especially verifying the claim that the concentrated flash of
    light from passing one of the lenses on the cone more than compensates
    the 50% of time the rotating cells spend on the shadow side (if I
    understand the animation right). Also I do not fully understand how the
    spinning cone of cells dissipates some 80% of the additional heat by
    rotation as it moves under a hermetically sealed cone, separated by an
    air gap, which adds thermal resistance along the path to the only heat
    sink, the cone itself.

    • ajcarpy2005

      There’s a huge “patent pending” heatsink on the underbelly that dissipates to the shadowy surface where the cone is mounted. Even then, they admit the cells get 15 degrees above ambient outside temp. It’s very possible that they are taking advantage of the mechanical spin to force air through the cone…

      • Bob_Wallace

        A heat sink can absorb only so much heat until it has reached the temperature of the interior of the device. There has to be some way to pass that heat off to something else – the surrounding air, the building, something.

        Mounting the cone on a block of “wonder cooling material” just doesn’t seem likely to work. I don’t see any cooling fins. They say nothing about circulating cooling water. How might they be moving heat away?

        • ajcarpy2005

          Is another company paying you or what? I bet they have fan blades built into the design to let the heat escape through the bottom. It isn’t mounted flush so outside air is able to mix. With a diameter of approx. 1 meter, there is a large perimeter and gap that appears in the picture to be at Least a couple inches…

          They only admit they keep the cells at 15 degrees above ambient. That doesn’t seem too difficult, now does it?

          The heat escapes the air outside bottom. And I also see what appears to be a metal tip on the apex of the cone which might help convection occur.

          But I think some of the infrared light is absorbed and converted into electricity further cooling the cells. All cells have and materials have a non-zero thermoelectric effect after all.

          • Bob_Wallace

            OMG! I’ve been found out!!

            OK, I’ll fess up. I’m so ashamed. But confessing is good for the soul, they say, so I’ll turn myself in.

            All these years I’ve been in the employment of Gaz Passé, S. C. The company that is bringing our best energy source to the market – electricity generated by turbines spun by burning unicorn farts.

            I am so, so sorry….

            If it were that easy to dissipate heat then concentrating solar systems that do work wouldn’t need active cooling.

            “some of the infrared light is absorbed and converted into electricity further cooling the cells”

            Some, but concentrated solar has problems with created high temperatures. Same problem would happen under the cone if they could collect enough energy.

          • ajcarpy2005

            to quote Wikipedia, “Low concentration PV in other words LCPV…low concentration PV are systems with a solar concentration of 2-100 Suns. For economic reasons conventional or modified silicon solar cells are typically used and at these concentrations the heat flux is low enough that the cells do not need to be actively cooled. The laws of optics dictate that a solar collector with a low concentration ratio can have a high acceptance angle and in some instances does not require active solar tracking.”

            From the Concentrated Photovoltaics Wikipedia page.

          • Bob_Wallace

            OK, cone is supposedly 20 suns so no tracking involved. And heat might not be a problem. Although increased temperature reduces cell output.

            Now, how does this device concentrate sunlight? To get a 20x sun amount of energy on the photocell you have to have 20 times as much collection area as cell area and some method to focus it on the cell.

            BTW, what’s spinning the outer cone? A motor?

          • ajcarpy2005

            The inner cone is what spins and it rides on magnetic bearings to reduce friction and increase lifespan of parts.

            To clarify the concentrating function,
            The pictures appear to depict ridges of plastic.
            Bu the entire polymer surface of the cone is concave so must concentrate light.

          • Robert

            Bob…the whole point of the Spin Cell is that you can concentrate the light with no heat issues. It is right in the technical review. Under the same concentration, the flat panels heat up to 221 degrees C and the Spin Cell is at 44 degrees C. That is a big deal. And as you noted, keeping the cells cool increases their efficiency.

          • Bob_Wallace

            How is the light concentrated?

            Give us some more information Robert if you want us to accept your claims.

            You’ve furnished no technical review that I’ve seen. There’s a linked page of general information, but it is far short of a technical review.

            Glass not pointed at the Sun produces little heat gain. That’s why we size our roof overhangs on the south side of houses to shade south facing windows in the summer.

          • Robert

            Bob, do you simply not believe the temperature chart that was created from third party testing…? It has nothing to do with roof hang on the South side of a house… The light was concentrated 30X on a flat panel and 30X on the Spin Cell…and the heat differential was 177 degrees C. That seems significant to me…

          • Bob_Wallace

            I can put an upside down mayonnaise jar on the roof and it will get hot. The mayonnaise jar will not concentrate solar energy on a cell placed inside it.

            Where’s the power data?

          • Robert

            …but a 30X concentrating lens will. I can promise you that no mayonnaise jars were injured in collecting this test data.

          • Bob_Wallace

            So are you telling us that the strip of cone that faces the Sun is 30 times larger than the photocell inside the cone?

          • Robert

            Bob. Even though there is no heat issue with one sun mono cells under 30X concentration, the bus lines on the cells where still designed for one sun concentration, not 30X. There is a limit to how much power can be pulled off the cell with standard designs. The best ratio of lensing and scale that will work with standard cells without having to do custom designs is still being analyzed. But we know that 30X concentration is not a problem with the heat. Be patient. Be positive.

          • Bob_Wallace

            I’m capable of patience. But I will remain highly skeptical of your claims as you are not presenting performance data, nor does your design have “face validity”. I can find no place where you are facing the Sun with a collector area 30x larger than the photo cell. And you are offering no explanation how you gather and focus that much energy.

            Heat, perhaps, is not an issue.

            IMHO you have gotten far, far ahead of your data with your claims. Apparently you have no working prototype. You have no performance data because you have no working prototype.

            What you have is an unproven idea and the patent office is chock full of those.

          • Robert

            Bob…there are two working prototypes. What we don’t have is a full manufacturing prototype, and that is our next milestone.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Well, good luck Robert. But some of us are going to need some strong data in order to be convinced that you have something that works.

            Especially since you haven’t explained how the 30x concentration works.

          • Kent Goertzen

            Actually they have if you would read through all the documentation above. It isn’t that they haven’t. It is that you’ve chosen to ignore and not believe what they’ve shown, even though tested from outside groups.

            What baffles me is your need to cast doubt on it when it isn’t even on the market yet. You have some misplaced since of nobility of your cause to criticize them when clearly you lack the basic fundamentals to understand anyway.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Well, Kent, I’ve read the documentation above several times. And I have found no explanation of how they are collecting and concentrating 30 suns.

            Obviously I’m quite stupid.

            Please copy and paste the part that explains that. The part I’ve been unable to locate. And please use your understanding of the fundamentals to explain it to us simpletons….

          • David Fuchs

            Robert some questions
            what is the power output?
            what is the efficiency of the solar cells?
            what is the cost of the unit without battery back up (spin cone, and inverter)?
            how tall and wide is the unit?

          • ajcarpy2005

            Yes, if possible, can you substantiate the claim of one Spin Cell collecting 1 Kw of power? The reason why many engineers and experts are skeptical is that each sq. meter of Earth is estimated to receive an average of approximately 1 Kw (1000 watts) and the area of the Spin Cell available to collect light would seem to be only about half a sq. meter.

            Now, I’m willing to believe that this device attracts infrared radiation from disperse locations, etc. and somehow just works.

            All I want to see is some data of power output and some explanations to exactly how the area of land-use can be reduced so substantially even without correspondingly large lenses.

          • Hans

            Why not present pictures of the prototypes. Anyone can generate nice computer graphics. And what about a graph with measurements of power output as a function of solar radiation? Or do have something to hide?

          • NancyRoseWalker

            Wait, wait,
            Didn’t you see the vertical lenses that are concentrating light rays at particular intervals? Look up Fresnel lenses, for example–with one of these lenses you can use sunshine to heat water to the boiling point (i.e., steam energy can be generated, simply with a lens!!)

          • peedee

            Whereas, the flat panel was at 100% output, while the cone is
            at 1/36th or 3% output, with most of it off-angle, or in shadow.
            Even if you ‘spin it really fast’, it’s not likely to turn into butter.

          • Guest

            If you work for the company you should know. You just keep pointing to charts and numbers and say look here are numbers. You never actually answer any question.

            The words “look, look, something shiny, something shiny” come to mind.

          • Guest

            what is the power output?
            what is the efficiency of the solar cells?
            what is the cost of the unit without battery back up (spin cone, and inverter)?
            how tall and wide is the unit?

          • peedee

            If it’s cooling, it ain’t fueling.

          • peedee

            This is a PAID ADVERTISEMENT not even a technical feasibility study or proof of concept. There are 1,000s of these kinds of pre-production blarney in search of VC investors who are gone.
            Maybe they can link it with batteries and LEDs, so at night on the club boulevard, they become rotating disco cones, woo, woo, woo.

          • Zachary Shahan

            This is not a paid advertisement. Sorry.

        • Jay W

          I’d guess ambient radiant cooling when in shadow of the sun. Though a cooling fan is much less mass to move (the propeller) than the whole panel assembly itself. Overall it looks more like one of those crazy Japanese comical inventions than a practical application.

  • Bob_Wallace

    It’s going to spin for 30 years without stuff wearing out?

    Where are the performance reports?

    Why was this not sent to an independent lab for testing?

    Seems like this Bill guy just measured temps, or did I miss something?

    “Bill Rever, a very well qualified 3rd party solar specialist has apparently verified the cost projection.”

    Someone could do a cost projection for an airplane without wings and engine.

    At any one time there is a relatively small amount of “lens” at an optimal angle to the Sun. How are they concentrating something that they don’t seem to be capturing?

    How does the PV bit track the Sun throughout the day? Can anyone sketch the light path in this device?

    Argggggggg…. I’m going to bed and see if I can get to sleep with all these alarm bells going off….

    • David Fuchs

      The one that gets me is the 1 kWp on a device with less than 1 sq meter (0.5 m2) of cross sectional surface area. With the sun only doing 1 kW per m2 and all.

    • Jeff Citron

      Finally someone asks the crucial question. “Can anyone sketch the light path in this device?” As the inventor of a new trough concentrator (not parabolic, patent pending), if I were trying to solicit investment or promote my invention, I would be willing to disclose the optics of how it concentrates in diagrams. Why are these guys afraid to disclose the optical details of their claimed concentration??? I can believe that their spinning cone with some sort of fan device could create a cooling air flow. But their concentration method is not obvious & is not described on their web site. What are they afraid of? Why won’t they disclose the details of their concentration? Presumably they are protected by patent pending status. Until they are able to show the technical details of how their device concentrates the moving image of the sun, I will be loath to believe it.

  • Bob_Wallace

    My BS detector is screaming right now.

    Extraordinary proof is required. Very extraordinary.

    • Kimgerly

      Not sure if my post is being censored. You are correct in having your BS detector set to the scream setting.

      I formally ‘poked a number of holes’ in this technology last year at SolarphaseC’s expense. To be ‘kind’, sounds like a good idea, but they have quite a way to go on the R&D. Let’s just say, for starters, they never satisfactorily answered any of my heat transfer and manufacturing process questions–a few points already raised in this thread. And, I’ve actually had dialogue with the former electrical engineer who affirmed my assertion that this technology’s patent is POORLY written. Not to mention, he also affirmed my assertion that claims made by the inventor that have yet to be verified in the laboratory with performance data. Um, yeah, red flag. In general, until I see actual, in-the-field performance metrics, this technology is dubious, at best.

      • Bob_Wallace

        You’re certainly not getting censored by the Mod. And I checked the Spam folder and you’ve nothing trapped there.

        Sometimes Disqus eats a post. It’s happened multiple times for me when I’ve attempted to reply via email. I’ve pretty much given up on that route and reply on the page.

        Sometimes I’ve replied via email and had my post turn up a day or two later.

      • David Fuchs

        Poking a number of holes is one thing. This tech is so full of contradictions, and gaping gashes so large it would sink the Titanic.

        “To be ‘kind’, sounds like a good idea, but they have quite a way to go on the R&D.”

        No, it is not a good idea, it sucks, none of the math works out. Everything they say does not fit with reality, physics, or engineering. The worst part is that all of their math and numbers contradict one another.

  • Bob_Wallace

    I think you want to be careful about using the median 28 cents from the EIA page as a working point.

    That’s an average price over 2008 through 2012. It’s likely not indicative of 2012 prices. You’ll notice that the minimum is 15 cents.

    And the maximum is 59 cents. To get a 59 cent LCOE in “middle America” you’d have to be installing at about $13/watt. Or $10/watt in foggy Seattle.

    • David Fuchs

      I think you are confusing LCOE and cost per Watt. The article and web site are so unclear on so much that it is understandable.

      • Bob_Wallace

        Go to –

        Click on the LCOE tab.

        Hover over the PV bar and you will see the LCOE numbers that I am using. 15, 28, 59 – min, median, max.

        Then go to the top of the page where Zach writes…

        “The cost of V3Solar’s Spin Cell, as noted in the title (and based on tests that the company considers to actually be conservative — meaning the cost could actually be lower), was quoted to me as being 8 cents per kWh!”

    • Vadim Daynovsky

      Good point, Bob – I saw this too. Note that the EIA chart’s LCOE numbers for solar PV are from 2009. Depending on how long you assume the panels will last and the regional cost of installation, I would estimate that 2013 LCOE costs for PV are between 10 and 15 cents/kwh on average across the US. Still, it is clear that the V3Solar has good potential to shave between 50cents to a dollar off an average install price/watt (considering that it is almost plug and play and does produce a lot more per square foot) – that definitely would be a big plus. Other questions will be key, and many commenters have raised them already – what happens if snow covers it? how long is the warranty for compared to 25 yrs for current panels? etc.

      • Bob_Wallace

        We’re lagging Germany 2-3 years in terms of installed solar price. German’s current cost would give us PV for about the 8 cents projected for the cone.

        I’ve got to see data from a recognized independent lab before I accept the claims made for the cone. After a good night’s sleep I still smell that smell….

  • Bob_Wallace

    Perhaps before people get too excited over 8 cents a kWh we should take a look at what PV solar is doing these days.

    Germany is installing PV at an average of $2/watt. Which means that some German solar is being installed for less than $2/watt. But I’ll use the average price.

    $2/watt, 4.5 avg solar hours per day – which covers much of the US outside the sunny Southwest = LCOE of 9 cents.

    $2/watt, 5.5 avg solar hours per day – inland SoCal, southern NV, most of AZ and NM = LCOE of 7.5 cents.

    In Hawaii with its 6 hour average = 7 cents.

    Tracking should pull those prices down a little.

    So, an interesting device. But not a major price breakthrough. Based on history we should be at the $2/watt average in a couple of years.

    Utility scale solar in the US is installing for $2.40/watt. Installed at $2.40 in Hawaii it’s an LCOE of 8.3 cents.

    And expectations are for installed PV to go to $1/watt.

    • Robert

      Bob: As the article states, V3 is at 80 cents/watt. The LCOE was done on US installation costs, which are almost double because of our ridiculous regulations. It was calculated at 3.24 sun hours and then increased by 30% for tracking, which the spin cell has included.

      • Bob_Wallace

        I really need someone to explain how the “spin cell” works in a way I can explain it.

        All I’m seeing is that “we put this cone over the cell, very little of the cone is optimally oriented toward the Sun, and we make cheap electricity”.

        Perhaps it will sink in with a few more readings. Or perhaps the Emperor…

        • Robert

          The 80 cents for the Spin Cell includes racking, tracking and inverter.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Let’s stick with LCOE. Zack’s sources claim 8 cents. Solar is clearly on its way to 8 cents in the near future, probably before these devices would reach production.

            LCOE includes racking, tracking, inverter, labor, etc.

        • someguy

          Watch the video, it shows the lenses concentrating the light on sections of the cell surface spinning underneath them so when that cell passes under the lens it gets the ‘green flash’ effect. Its pretty friggin obvious what they are doing even for a non-engineer, now if the math actually works IDFK. Why convert it to AC on the spot? isn’t it going to be stored??

      • Bob_Wallace

        PV solar panels are (bulk purchased) under 60 cents/watt.

        My LCOE numbers were done on US costs.

        I do not understand how this “tracking” is supposedly done.

        I’m also not seeing that they have actually built a working prototype to date. Did I miss that fact?

        • Vadim Daynovsky

          Bob, I don’t think it’s entirely correct that LCOE = cost per watt divided by amount of sunlight hours per day – it’s more complex than that. If this Cool Spin model really were mass produced today, according to their claims it would cost 80 cents/watt for panels, inverter and mounting combined (plus you would save significantly on installation time and costs on top of that). That WOULD be a lot cheaper than current costs (plus one would be able to put a lot more solar per square foot); the question is if this thing will work.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Correct, LCOE is more complex than $/hours. Look it up.

            Their claims are speculation. Let’s not buy into them too quickly. As far as I can tell they have no working prototype.

            Solar installed at German prices would give us 8 cent per kWh electricity in parts of the US right now. PV prices and installation prices will fall further.

      • Donald Scott

        Ridiculous regulations? You mean those pesky laws which keep companies from selling cold fusion devices or a spinning solar system which may work and may be affordable — or may not?

  • Sean

    seems over hyped, with little to explain how it actually works.
    (lots of emotional words and little substance sounds like snake oil, but for want of $0.08/Kwh, we continue to look on)
    big issues i see

    how are you getting the electricity off the spinning panel? brushes?

    Greenhouse effect, once over 42C panels degrade remarkably.
    shipping costs will be enormous, volume per watt, potentially more fragile
    and finally, as was pointed out in the original story, there is a lot of solar cells that arnt facing the sun at any one time.

  • David Fuchs

    From the specs the unit cost on this is $4.54 a watt.

    • Matt Hinterlong

      the spec you are referring to for the $4.54 a watt price is for the military mobile unit hybrid with battery backup, correct?

    • David Fuchs
      • Robert

        David…where are you getting those numbers? It says right in the article that BOM cost is 59 cents/Wp…

        • David Fuchs

          “It says right in the article that BOM cost is 59 cents/Wp”

          Do you believe everything you read on the internet?

          First lets talk about the power output.

          from –
          “Approximately a meter high and a meter wide and producing 1kWp of electricity”

          The bottom of the cone is 1 meter across, that is 0.785 square meters of area. A cone 1 meter in height has 1.7562 m2 of lateral (side) surface area. We are not dealing with surface area but a cross section of the cone (0.5 m2 max) due to the suns power output.

          The sun only puts out ~1 kw per meter squared (equator at noon). There is no way to multiply this energy and magically make it greater

          At 24% efficiency, I do not see how these could put out anything more than ~176 watts at noon (more than likely 120 watts) at the equator no matter what angle the sun is coming from.

          Second lets talk about the price.

          With the unit price I saw last night at $768 the numbers make no sense. They end up from $4.36 to $7 USD per watt. Plus their web site mentions $6 USD per watt installed.

          Also, I do not get why they are spinning this thing and not using liquid crystals and variable index of refraction or focus instead. They could reduce the thing down to a 3 inch tall flat panel that way.

          kWp –

  • MrEnergyCzar

    This is interesting…well done Zach. Might have to talk about it in my next news video…


  • Matthew Todd Peffly

    If the cone is sealed then where so the heat go? Think green house, when the air inside is 100 degree it does not matter how fast you spin it is still hot. Also wonder (like Spiffy) about the wear. But here is hoping I’m wrong and less that 0.08/ kWh LCOE is correct. They have orders for 4GW? Anyone put money down on a order yet?

    • Robert

      There is an air exchange between the inner and outer cone that actively removes the heat.

  • SpiffySolar

    Movement equals wear. Wear equals breakage and loss of production. Additionally, if that clear cover is plastic, there is no way it will survive 30 years in the sun. If it’s glass, which needs to be tempered, there is no way it will be that cheap.

  • Ronald Brak

    Ah, it’s a concentrator! When I saw them before I thought they were just PV in a cone. A concentrator makes more sense.

    • dynamo.joe

      It has concentrators built into the shield, but it is NOT a concentrator.
      The total surface area of the shield and the surface area of PV are basically the same. That’s how it looks in the video at any rate.
      For it to be a true concentrator, the PV cone would have to be smaller than the concentrator cone.
      I guess to be precise, it is a 1.02x concentrator (approximately) not a 20x concentrator as it is claiming.
      I do believe the cooling claims to a certain extent and that there is no need for additional tracking.
      The biggest factor seems to be their design aesthetic. The cone looks cool and the tree sculpture thing looks really cool. We have seen Apple become the worlds biggest Tech company and that isn’t superior tech, it is superior design.

      • Robert

        The graphics are misleading. The inner cone is actually MUCH smaller than the outer cone, and it is a 20X concentration.

        • Hans

          It does not make much sense that a company makes a propaganda animation that does not illustrate the main principle of the system. So either they are very stupid PR-wise, or there is just no real concentration taking place.

      • Bob_Wallace

        “It has concentrators built into the shield, but it is NOT a concentrator.”

        ‘Splain that to me Lucy. I am not getting where the concentrating takes place.

        I don’t even see how they capture ample light in order to concentrate it. Very little surface area is facing the Sun at any given point.

        Look at the illustration on this page –

        See how the ratio of lens area to PV area is much greater? And how the lens focuses the light hitting it into a smaller area? Just like starting a fire with a magnifying glass.

        I don’t grasp the optics of this device.

        (Remember Rossi and ecat?)

        • dynamo.joe

          If you look at the shield part, there are 6, maybe 8, hemi-spherical ridges. I believe these are meant to be concentrators. So I see some ability to concentrate light locally but not ummmm globally (for lack of a better word).

          Thats why I said has concentrators but isn’t a concentrators.

          • Bob_Wallace

            For sake of discussion, let’s assume they are concentrating lenses.

            For concentrated solar tracking is always (?) needed. You’ve got to keep lens surface facing the Sun so that the energy is collected and then focused on the sweet spot.

          • David Fuchs

            That is not necessarily true. With a combo of lenses and curved mirrors you could concentrate energy from a wide range of angles. Look at Compound Parabolic Reflectors. They accept light from a wide range of angles. The one below will do 47 degrees. That’s a a half-acceptance angle of 23.5 degrees.


          • dynamo.joe

            You don’t NEED tracking for any concentrating system, but the alternatives seem to be using more PV cells or throwing away some of the incident light.

            Imagine just a simple concentrating lens with no tracking. Does the “sweet spot” move? Sure, but if I put additional PV cells all along the track I still collect the energy. I have just traded the complexity of tracking for the addition cost of more PV.

            That seems to be a version of what they are doing here. The light is concentrated somewhere on the inner cone and they don’t care where.

            Does it make sense to do it that way? No, not to me at any rate.

            There is also an analogy to be made with parabolic troughs. Which trade 2 axis tracking for single axis tracking and throw a little bit of light away at the ends.

          • Bob_Wallace

            But if you put in more cells then you toss away the advantage of concentrating solar.

            The idea is to use a very small piece of expensive, high efficiency solar and to compensate for its high price by flooding it with ‘many suns’.

          • dynamo.joe

            Agreed. You and I are radically misunderstanding this device. Or they are radically misunderstanding how physics works.

            I know who I would put my money on.

  • Karl

    What’s a single cone unit rated for – 1 KW or more?

    • David Fuchs

      With a 1 meter diameter circle, and the surface area of half a cone it has to be less than 1 kW even at the equator. After all the sun only puts down 1 kW per square meter and solar cells are only running 20% in the best case.

  • StefanoR99

    Looks really cool! Curious though, would the concentrated sunlight reduce the longevity of the PV that the collector is focusing the light on?

    • David Gobel

      no. Think about how you can quickly pass your finger through a candle’s flame over and over again without getting even heated up. That’s what happens as the pv in momentary focus quickly spins away from the light concentrator.

      • StefanoR99

        Nice analogy, but wouldn’t extra energy absorbed make the silicon work harder? Sort of like getting sunburn on a cold day – your skin wouldn’t feel it happening but the extra energy its absorbed means you now have a red nose…

        What is the primary cause of degradation in PV output – heat or just plain old usage?

        • Otis11

          Well, theoretically there is a limit to how many electrons you can draw out of a PV cell, so the more current you draw the faster it would wear out. (This has to do with the moving electrons damaging the crystal lattice structure as they move through it, not the number of electrons in the lattice) Fortunately for us, this limit is so astronomically large it will never be reached before the cell is destroyed through other means.

          Physical damage is the most common, but “sun burn” can also occur if the panel gets to hot (fairly rare, although heat does affect performance, if you lower the heat again, it will go back to normal for the most part. Degradation is negligible unless it happens often/repeatedly or for extended periods) The other common issue is over-voltage where a current is pushed back through the cell causing damage – but I’m fairly certain this is also fairly rare with modern power electronics. I rarely deal with those though so couldn’t really give any numbers.

          Suffice it to say that the useful life of the solar cells are as long as they can go without being physically damaged and as long as the power electronics hold up – whichever is shorter. (Both of which are fairly long!)

      • Otis11

        That does not apply as, even though the PV is only in focus of that one lens for a second, as soon as that lens passes a new one is focused on it. It would be like running your finger along an entire circle of candles repeatedly! That would definitely burn your hand!

        But no, it should not affect the longevity of the PV as there are only 3 things that can damage solid state electronics: Physical damage, over temperature (which this appears to be lower) and over current/voltage.

        I’m still not convinced this works as advertised – haven’t quite wrapped my head around the concept yet – but I’m going to do some more research.

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