The Met-Ed / Penelec Sustainable Energy Fund awarded a $340,000 grant to a Berks County company developing an innovative solar dish concentrator capable of delivering clean, inexpensive thermal energy for a wide range of applications.
Solarflux Energy Technologies Inc. in Bern Township will use the grant to improve the efficiency of constructing the parabolic dish concentrators.
Berks County Community Foundation and the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies (CFA) administer the Met-Ed / Penelec Sustainable Energy Fund, which provides financial support to promote renewable and clean energy, energy conservation and efficiency, and sustainable energy businesses.
“With this funding, we plan to increase production speed and capacity, and dramatically reduce unit costs,” said Naoise Irwin, chairman of Solarflux.
“By making an investment that allows Solarflux to refine the research and development of its solar concentrator dish, the Met-Ed / Penelec Sustainable Energy Fund is helping advance technology that will ultimately give people another option for renewable power,” said Heidi Williamson, senior vice president for programs and initiatives at Berks County Community Foundation. “Supporting this kind of innovation in Pennsylvania is an important part of the fund’s mission.”
CFA Associate Director Angie Berzonski said the project was an ideal fit for the aims of this Met-Ed / Penelec Sustainable Energy Fund grant opportunity.
“This grant was part of a strategic investment opportunity that our advisory committee identified after researching categories of clean energy development in need of funding in order to move forward,” Berzonski said. “It sought to support research and development efforts that would ultimately help to close the gap on the cost difference between traditional energy technologies and renewables.”
Made from low-cost, resilient aluminum reflectors, the FOCUS parabolic reflector dish follows the sun on two axes throughout the day, maximizing the capture of solar radiation. Solar radiation reflects off the concentrator onto a central receiver, heating a circulating thermal fluid. The heated fluid then passes through a heat exchanger to create hot water, high temperature steam or other high enthalpy fluids.
With 50% of global energy consumption in the form of heat, the market for thermal energy is vast. The FOCUS provides a clean, inexpensive source of thermal energy for a wide range of applications, including industrial process heat, space heating and cooling, hot water, water desalination and purification, and remote and distributed power applications.