In addition to my role with Goldrock Capital, since March 2007 I have been the finance & strategy advisor to an early stage solar energy company called ZenithSolar. ZenithSolar has developed a very unique concentrated photovoltaic CPV system that provides both electricity and thermal energy at a combined system efficiency about 75%. Truly groundbreaking.
On Sunday, ZenithSolar launched its first commercial pilot at kibbutz Yavne. Shimon Peres - the president of Israel - spoke and had the honor of cutting the ribbon together with the children of some of ZenithSolar's key management. There were a number of other government officials there as well - including the ambassador of Australia (since the Co-Founder and CTO of ZenithSolar is Bob Whelan, hailing from Australia).
The pilot consists of 32 - 11 sq. meter non-parabolic dishes that are each covered with more than 1,200 small mirror facets that each focus the sun's energy at on 10 centimeter squared high efficiency gallium arsenide (GaAs) solar cell module. Due to the extreme heat caused by the high concentration of the sun's energy onto the single module, the module is cooled with a closed loop water system that heats a hot water tank- consequently creating valuable hot water for various uses - which include domestic needs, washing, industrial processes, etc. 2 dishes together sit on top of a highly accurate 2-axis tracking system. This pilot is expected to generate between $75,000 and $100,000 of energy savings (both electricity and thermal) per year. This is thanks in part to the inflated rate of 2 shekels per kWh (about $0.50) that the Israel electric company must pay for each kWh that will be fed to the electricity grid.
This is ground breaking on many levels.
1) No other solar PV system in the world claims efficiencies beyond about 20% (claimed and delivered by SunPower). ZenithSolar is providing 75% - due to the system harnessing and utilizing the residual heat.
2) As an application - providing cogeneration (CHP) 100% clean energy to a residential gated community is probably the first of its kind on a global scale.
3) This is the largest grid connected solar installation in Israel.
4) Specifically in the CPV space, CPV has only had utility scale pilots in Arizona and Spain. This is possibly the first CPV pilot deployment to a REAL customer in the world.
5) The corporate achievements reached by ZenithSolar - with the resources and manpower that has been available to them since its founding in 2006 - is truly astounding and I congratulate Roy Segev - the CEO, and the entire team on a job well done!
The future is very bright for ZenithSolar!
The video below is the introduction speech for ZenithSolar and President Shimon Peres (in Hebrew) by Prof. Ezri Tarazi. Ezri is leading product design and strategy at ZenithSolar. He is also the head of the industrial design Masters program at the elite Betzalel Institute in Jerusalem. He has been with the company since the founding and has been integral to its success. At 1:45 in the video, you can get a good look at the solar field. It looks fantastic!