Select Photovoltaic News and related Tidbits from CES 2017.
New CPV and CIGS companies plus ubiquitous SunPower.
I did my best to scour CES Tech West and Tech East for the top solar, photovoltaic, or related ecosystem products and services.
JETSTREAM ENERGY TECHNOLOGIES, INC.
In the back of the Sands Expo (CES Tech West), Jetstream was featuring the NewGen solar electric generating system for the 2017 introductory special price of $9,999 before taking the Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) and capable of generating 3.5kWh (kiloWatt-hours) of electricity per hour of sunlight for the seven (7) module configuration. The CPV (Concentrating PhotoVoltaic) system includes a dual-axis tracker and integrated inverter in the “brain box”. Initial NewGen production of 500 units is slated for the 275 investors in the company. Jetstream has production capacity of 1000 units per month located in Santa Fe, New Mexico USA, and has plans for further expansion. Jetstream will begin taking deposits for NewGen systems on February 1, 2017. A system specification was not yet available, and the display unit was not representative of production. Jetstream CEO Henry Herman showed me the CPV module assembly, but I didn’t get a photo.
When I saw the flexible module in the Sunflare booth at CES 2017, I thought it was using thin silicon solar cells. Instead, Sunflare’s Capture4 technology is based on CIGS (Copper Indium Gallium Selenium) manufactured on a cell by cell basis analogous to crystalline silicon. Sunflare told me they had 5MW (MegaWatt) of production capacity ramping since last month, module aperture efficiency of about 15%, and initial pricing in the $2.50 to 4.00 per Watt range. Sunflare is headquartered in the United States, manufactures in China, and has a Swedish technology partner. The evidence points to Midsummer AB as the production equipment supplier.
SunCulture Solar Inc.
Well, I got to see SolPad for the first time, and this was another case of just walking by the booth by accident. I have no doubt SolPad Mobile is a fantastic product! The integrated solar cells are gorgeous and must be sourced from SunPower Corporation (NASDAQ:SPWR)? SunCulture explained to me how the unit does not run afoul of net metering rules when plugged in by only injecting power into your home to match consumption by connected SolControl smart plug units. Already at a premium, the SolPad Mobile has a limited quantity introductory price of $1395 for May 1, 2017, preorders, while the unit has a lackluster 1 year warranty.
I still cannot get onboard with the rooftop SolPad Home product integrating a battery. The SolPad Home warranty of 25 years for the PV module plus inverter and 10 years for the solid-state battery of undisclosed origin only reinforces my perception.
Founded by serial entrepreneur Damoder Reddy of Solexant fame, Argil has been developing an electrochromic (EC) film for automotive, architectural, and wearable applications. Argil’s EC smart film has fast switching speed at low voltage (<1.5 Volts) with low haze, excellent optical state memory, and low power consumption (<0.1 Watts per square meter). Argil told me the EC film is bi-stable and can retain the optical state for days without power consumption until switched again. Argil has an exclusive license to the technology developed by an unnamed university and has generated new patents related to materials and process technologies. Though I did not see a demo, Argil has EC samples, and a datasheet is available by request.
LANCEY Energy Storage
LANCEY has developed a connected, battery powered electric space heater intended to charge during off peak times and heat using the battery when electricity prices peak. By just plugging into an outlet, the LANCEY space heater is perfect for retrofits and utilizes advanced heating technologies, a smart phone app, and user detection to minimize electric bills. Looking like it belongs in an IKEA showroom, LANCEY is expected to enter volume production in 2H2017 with an estimated €1000 per unit price.
In future products, LANCEY would like a direct connection to solar generated DC power to avoid AC to DC conversion losses.
At the CES Smart Energy Marketplace presented by Solar Power International, iPowerUp was showing the svelte iPhone6/6S/7 Fusion Solar case with an integrated 2500mAh (milliamp-hour) Li-Polymer (lithium ion polymer) battery. The dual solar panels can charge up to 500mA (milliamps) per hour using what I learned were SunPower monocrystalline solar cells cut into rectangles! I found the case to be lightweight and not too bulky for both the battery and the solar. The iPhone 6/6S version is retail priced at $89.95 while the iPhone 7 model is $99.95.
PowerFilm Solar Inc.
Camped at CES Tech East, PowerFilm was featuring the new LightSaver Line of solar chargers with integrated Li-Ion (lithium ion) battery, a Micro USB input for pre-charging, and a USB output to charge devices. The thin film amorphous silicon solar panel is military grade and has superior low light performance and less temperature sensitivity. The midrange LightSaver M-2 has a $149.99 MSRP (manufacturer’s suggested retail price), weighs less than 5 ounces (~142 grams) with a 3200mAh battery, and can be fully charged in 6-8 hours. The LightSaver M-2 will disappear inside your hiking backpack.
As a CES 2017 Innovation Awards Honoree in the Tech For A Better World category, the Ampd Silo is a 16.8kWh (kiloWatt-hour) Energy Storage Backup System targeting renewable energy installations, backup power for buildings, and grid-wide load leveling. Packed with technology and features, up to four (4) Ampd Silos can be daisy chained in a parallel (N+X) configuration for backup power hungry applications. Each Ampd Silo contains eight (8) battery modules fused at both the module and the individual battery level; Ampd claims the Silo is the only Energy Storage Backup System in Asia to obtain UL9540 certification. The Ampd Silo is expected to have an $8800 MSRP and be warrantied for 5 years or 2000 charge cycles at which point the batteries should retain 70% of their original capacity. Ampd Silo production is planned to start in March or April 2017 with expected cumulative production of 22MWh (MegaWatt-hours) this year. Ampd is focusing their sales efforts on Southeast Asia and India with emphasis on Hong Kong, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Brunei, and Vietnam.
SolarGaps touts the world’s first solar smart blind that can track the sun and generate 100 Watt-hours of electricity per square meter. SolarGaps has an integrated inverter and, per the company, can simply be plugged into an outlet for immediate use. SolarGaps again uses SunPower solar cells though they are investigating colors besides black and options to customize the backside of the blind. SolarGaps is expected to be priced between $480 to $890 per square meter and will launch a Kickstarter campaign next month to finance full-scale production.
Later this year, Autel Robotics plans to offer a version of the X-Star series drones with a FLIR Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ:FLIR) Duo Module option for thermal and visible light imaging and recording. The FLIR combo imager with a drone is destined to become a low cost workhorse for aerial solar installation inspections. At higher cost, the FLIR Duo R Module adds radiometric calibrated temperature measurement capabilities to home in on hot spots.
CES needs to improve the Exhibitor search feature on both the website and app to help find relevant keywords. Searching for “solar” and “photovoltaic” were almost useless in finding all the relevant exhibitors.