Can Sopogy’s Small-Scale CSP Lead to Lower Prices?

Concentrated solar power (CSP) might conjure upimages of massive solar collector installations in the California Mojave or North African desert with tens of thousands of mirrors or miles ofparabolic troughs — along with a lot of annoyed tortoises, politiciansand environmentalists. 

Sopogy’s take on CSP is a bit different than that.

Smaller in size and operating at lower temperatures, the Sopogy design is CSPfor the distribution grid or even the rooftop level.  Smaller scalemeans one to twenty megawatts versus big CSP at 100 megawatts-plus, andlower temperature means 500 degrees F versus 800 degrees F.  Those lower temperatures mean that the components can be a little moreoff-the-shelf and may reduce the need for expensive evacuated tubes andmirrors.

I spoke with Sopogy’s CEO, Darren Kimura, in his headquarters onOahu.  Kimura founded the now 40-person firm in 2001 in Palo Alto,California and is a 19-year veteran of the energy industry, havingalready founded and sold an energy firm prior to his stint at Sopogy. The firm was originally funded by Kimura but has since taken about $20million from investors including Cargill’s VC arm, Black River Ventures, eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and TWC.

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