A five megawatt (MW) pilot concentrated solar power (CSP) plantdesigned in SolidWorks 3D CAD software went online this week, providingelectricity to 4,000 homes near Los Angeles. California-based eSolarused SolidWorks software to design heliostat mirrors that reflect andconcentrate sunlight to a boiler that generates steam and powers astandard turbine to create solar energy.
*Funded in part by Google, eSolar is an Idealab company that developsand constructs modular, scalable solar thermal power plants.
* eSolar’s methodology standardizes heliostat production to reduce costs and development time, while simplifying deployment.
*eSolar uses 20 licenses of SolidWorks software to engineer the exactmirror specifications that can withstand extreme winds yet be lightenough for easy electronic adjustment.
* By enabling eSolarengineers to calculate precise tolerances and part fits on screen,SolidWorks has eliminated a full prototype cycle (normally four months).
*Contract manufacturers work with eSolar’s SolidWorks designs to ensuremanufacturability and ease of assembly, further streamliningdevelopment.
* eSolar also uses SolidWorks Workgroup PDM productdata management software to ensure version control while differentengineers work on the same design simultaneously.
* Global energy demand could double or triple by 2050, according to the World Business Council for Sustainable Development.
*By 2020, solar energy could easily provide energy to over a billionpeople globally and provide 2.3 million full-time jobs, according toEPIA and Greenpeace.
Rick Iannello, vice president ofmanufacturing, said: "As a startup company, we want to deliver ourproduct as fast as possible. That means proving the technology andgarnering interest while you still have enough capital.
"SolidWorkssoftware played a critical role in helping us refine the technologyquickly so we could start shopping our scalable plant design around.The result is that we’ve gone online with our pilot, and we have otherprojects in the works. That’s the kind of early traction we need."