SDG&E unveils new solar power demonstration projects

Projects concentrate solar heat/light to boost power efficiency

Jun 2, 2010

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Art Larson/April Sharp

San Diego Gas & Electric

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        SAN DIEGO, June 2, 2010 – San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) today introduced two new solar power demonstration installations that concentrate the light and heat from the sun to generate power in two distinctively different ways.
        The concentrated solar power technology employed by the utility’s El Cajon, Calif., operations center include:

        • The PowerDishTM, built by Infinia of Kennewick, Wash., a mirrored disc 15 feet in diameter that concentrates and focuses the sun’s energy onto a compact Stirling engine that converts that energy into electricity.  Each PowerDish produces up to 3,000 watts of electricity, enough to power a typical home;

        • Concentrator Photovoltaic (CPV) Technology, built by SolFocus of Mountain View, Calif., uses a reflective optical system to concentrate sunlight 650 times onto very high-efficiency photovoltaic cells up to twice as efficient as traditional silicon PV cells.  The rectangular system is 24 feet wide, 18 feet tall and is capable of generating 8,400 watts, enough to power three homes.

        The total cost for both projects is $80,000 and will be funded by SDG&E’s research and development group.

        “The concentrated solar technology we are hosting on our property is more than a bright idea conceived in the lab, it represents the potential leading edge of new and practical forms of renewable power,” said James P. Avery, senior vice president of power supply for SDG&E.

         “Hosting these demonstration projects on our property provides us the opportunity to determine the real-world applications of these systems and their potential on a utility scale.”

        The demonstrations are expected to continue for 12 to 18 months, after which SDG&E will share the results with the manufacturers.
        Today’s announcement supports SDG&E’s plan to develop green technologies, meet its renewable energy goals and reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.  The company has voluntarily agreed to obtain 33 percent of its electricity portfolio from renewables by 2020.
         SDG&E is a regulated public utility that provides safe and reliable energy service to 3.4 million consumers through 1.4 million electric meters and more than 840,000 natural gas meters in San Diego and southern Orange counties.  The utility’s area spans 4,100 square miles.  SDG&E is committed to creating ways to help our customers save energy and money every day.  SDG&E is a subsidiary of Sempra Energy (NYSE: SRE), a Fortune 500 energy services holding company based in San Diego.