U.S. Department of Energy

Low-Cost, Lightweight Solar Concentrators

JPL logo Graphic of two dishes, mounted to the ground, that are side-by-side.

This graphic shows the JPL/L'Garde lightweight concentrator facets, which are deployed for different configurations.

The Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), with funding from the 2012 SunShot Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) R&D FOA, is designing an optimized solar thermal collector structure using a lightweight collector structure capable of lowering structural costs, simplifying installation, and leading to mass-manufacturability.

Approach

The JPL project seeks to achieve the SunShot Initiative installed cost target of $75/m2 for a solar thermal collector system, as well as SunShot performance targets for optical errors, operations during windy conditions, and lifetime.

The specific project objectives are to:

  • Design and develop a mirror module using an inexpensive reflective film bonded onto a lightweight structural rigid foam support
  • Design and develop a low-cost, non-traditional mirror-module support structure
  • Select low-cost drive components and associated control system
  • Design, integrate, and test a low-cost concentrator
  • Analyze the system's cost to demonstrate achieving the $75/m2 collector system target.

Innovation

The cost of current concentrators can reach between 40% and 50% of the total installed costs for a CSP plant. The reflector module represents a key cost driver, which JPL's foam-based facet seeks to reduce significantly.

Optimized for cost, performance, and lifetime, the innovative JPL solar concentrator features:

  • Durable thin-film mirrors (instead of mirrored glass) with high reflectivity for concentrating solar energy
  • A mirror support structure that is 40% less expensive and reduces the weight of the system by more than 50%
  • A mirror module that contains several facets and/or gores that facilitate simple transportation, installation, maintenance, and repair.

In addition, JPL's technology offers ease of manufacturability and can be modified easily for multiple types of CSP collectors.

Publications, Patents, and Awards

At this time, this project does not have published articles, patents, or awards.

SunShot logo

The SunShot CSP R&D program seeks to accelerate progress toward the cost target of $0.06 per kilowatt-hour through novel and revolutionary research into CSP technologies. Learn about other DOE competitive awards for concentrating solar power research that are in progress.