247Solar and South Africa’s Stellenergy (Pty) Ltd. have agreed to build an initial 247Solar Plant™ in South Africa to be followed by widespread commercial deployment in southern Africa. The agreement is based on the growing awareness that 247Solar’s technology is designed to deliver electricity 24/7, i.e., every hour of the day, not just when the sun is shining, to many of the 1.5 billion people in the world without electricity.
Of particular interest to power customers worldwide is that the 247Solar Plant is competitive with electricity from photovoltaics, but which has the drawback of operating only when the sun shines. 247Solar Plants, on the other hand, can achieve non-stop power generation by converting sunlight to heat, which is used to power jet-engine-like turbines, which in turn spin a generator to produce electricity. Simultaneously, the Plant inexpensively stores some of the sun’s energy as heat for nighttime use, rather than as electricity in costly batteries. The system can burn small amounts of fuel if needed for uninterruptible, 24/7 power generation.
One of the five subsystems of the 247Solar Plants is a field of mirrors, called heliostats, that track the sun to reflect it to a small device on top of a tower to create the Plant’s high temperature heat. Stellenergy brings to the partnership an innovative heliostat design, which was invented at Stellenbosch University.
“Southern Africa has a large and growing need for low-cost, reliable electricity. We are delighted to be incorporating this innovative heliostat field into our system and to be working with Stellenergy to commercialize it.”Bruce Anderson, CEO
Stellenergy CEO Paul Gauche stated, “We have eagerly anticipated 247Solar’s entry into the large southern African market, and we are pleased that we have reached agreement to incorporate our technology into their 247Solar Plant and to commercialize it here. Not only are 247Solar Plants most likely to generate power at the lowest cost, but they can be built quickly and operated simply. They’re ideal alternatives to coal power plants because they operate 24/7 and are usually located much closer to the user.”
The first step in the collaboration by the companies is to build the first 247Solar Plant in Africa. The Plant, which is a pre-engineered standardized “module”, will produce 300 to 400 kWe of power around the clock. South Africa has been one of the world’s most active solar markets, and thousands of these modules could be used over the coming years to replace the country’s aging coal plants as they are shut down.
Further, instead of being a challenge for grid operators, as coal plants are because of their unpredictable down time for repairs, 247Solar Plants improve grid performance by reliably and instantly responding to fluctuating power demands of the grid. In addition, like wind machines, every 247Solar Plant is identical to the next for continuous cost reductions through factory production. This approach enables rapid on-site assembly and short, lower risk project cycles. A majority of components will be made in South Africa, creating jobs for skilled and unskilled workers, increasing the local content of projects, and building industrial capacity.
247Solar is in negotiations with companies throughout the world who want to build power projects using 247Solar Plants. In April of this year, the company signed a Joint Venture Agreement with a Chinese partner. China has emerged as the world’s largest CSP market. After prioritizing the manufacturing and deployment of PV and wind in its 12th 5-Year Plan in 2011, China became the world’s largest market for those two technologies. Now, its 13th 5-Year Plan, effective since January 1 of this year, is calling for a similar emphasis on CSP.
About 247Solar Inc.
247Solar Inc. was formed in 2015 to commercialize the 247Solar Plant, invented by Wilson Solarpower, a spinoff from MIT. The 247Solar Plant is a revolutionary product for utility scale, firmly dispatchable, 24/7 power generation and energy storage using concentrated solar power (CSP). It has the potential to produce electricity competitively, without subsidies, with power from virtually all other new generation facilities, including fossil, nuclear, or renewable resources. The system concentrates and captures the sun’s energy to heat air – instead of water, typical of first-generation CSP systems – that then drives a jet-engine-like turbine to produce electricity. The unique 247Solar Plant, which operates 24/7, employs next generation solar technology and a “Brayton cycle” gas turbine capable of producing “dispatchable” electricity on demand, day or night, regardless of weather.