Partnership allows construction of Liquid Solar Array pilot plant

Sunengy has entered into a partnership with India’s largest integrated private power utility Tata Power that will allow it to build a pilot plant for its patented Liquid Solar Array (LSA) technology in India by the end of this year.

The LSA uses Concentrated Photovoltaic (CPV) technology. However, unlike more traditional designs, the LSA uses relatively lightweight plastic concentrators that float on water, mounted on anchored rafts.

In use, a thin plastic lens rotates slowly to track the sun, concentrating sunlight onto the silicon photovoltaic cells, which are housed in a container that sits in water, where they are kept cool and efficient through convective heat flow to the surrounding water. In bad weather, the lens is protected by rotating it under the water to avoid damage in high winds.

Phil Connor, Sunengy executive director and chief technology officer, said that the LSA system could be ideally situated on the water contained by hydroelectric dams. Modelling by Sunengy has shown, for example, that a 240MW LSA system could increase annual energy generation at the Portuguese hydro plant, Alqueva, by 230 per cent.

’If India uses just one per cent of its 30,000km2 of captured water with our system, we can generate power equivalent to 15 large coal-fired power stations,’ Connor claimed.

Construction of the pilot plant in India will commence in August 2011. Sunengy also plans to establish a larger LSA system in the New South Wales (NSW) Hunter Valley in mid-2012.