Think small. That’s the basic design concept (if not the ambition) for Honolulu-based startup Sopogy’s concentrating solar thermal systems. The technology is essentially a condensed version of the massive mirror-and-lense setups that companies like Ausra, BrightSource, Solel and eSolel use on large swaths of land to heat liquid and turn it into power. As CNET’s Martin Lamonica has put it, “If giant solar thermal power plants spread across the desert are like a mainframe,” Sopogy, which is backed by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, “is making the equivalent of a personal computer.”
Today we have a glimpse of Sopogy’s tech in action, as Sempra Energy utility Southern California Gas Company (SoCal Gas) has just unveiled a new concentrated solar power system built by Sopogy and HelioDynamics. The installation is part of a 44,572-square-foot facility where it plans to trial and showcase its much of its cleantech R&D, including energy efficiency and green building projects.