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Saturday, September 6, 2008

New Concentrated Solar Tech: Simple, Cheap and Efficient

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Morgan Solar, a Toronto-based company launched last summer, believes it has the answer to creating simple and cheap solar concentrators.

While other companies are working to make solar cheaper by using mirrors or lenses to magnify sunlight that is directed into solar cells, Morgan Solar takes a different approach. Their system uses a thin sheet of acrylic to concentrate sunlight 750 times. The sunlight is directed to a tiny cell on the edge of the plastic, greatly reducing the amount of material needed.

Though Morgan Solar has competitors in the concentrated solar field, the company claims that their design is more efficient and less likely to break than other systems. And since their product requires so few materials—just aluminum, acrylic, and PV—it will be four times cheaper than other concentrated solar technologies.

Of course, Morgan Solar’s design is sure to draw comparisons to MIT’s announcement in July of a new technology that uses organic dyes to concentrate solar. But Morgan Solar claims that their optics are even more efficient.

We’ll find out whether the companies impressive claims are true in short order— a 1 meter by 1 meter prototype panel is currently being installed at the Earth Rangers Center in Toronto. The panel will begin producing electricity at the end of the month.

If Morgan Solar’s panels work as planned, concentrated solar may become a viable technology for countries that can’t afford the expensive systems available today.

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