Helio100, University of Stellenbosch, Jeffrey Barbee, The Solar Thermal Research Group, concentrated solar power, mini heliostats, small-scale concentrated solar power, South Africa, solar power, renewable energy, concentrated solar power

South African team may have solved solar puzzle even Google couldn’t crack

It is a problem that has so far stumped even Google’s brainy engineers – how to generate cheap solar electricity using a small-scale array of mirrors to concentrate the sun’s energy.

Now a team at a South African university – led by a former Intel strategic planner – believes they have cracked it. Once they have completed a prototype system in October they have big plans for rolling out the technology.

The idea behind the design – so-called Concentrated Solar Power or CSP – is simple. A field of mirrors on the ground tracks the sun and concentrates its rays on to a central point which heats up. That heat is converted into electricity.

Read more on the Guardian’s Website.

Check out the unpublished images here:

Carvin Claasen, Helio100, University of Stellenbosch, Jeffrey Barbee, The Solar Thermal Research Group, concentrated solar power, mini heliostats, small-scale concentrated solar power, South Africa, solar power, renewable energy, concentrated solar power
Carvin Claasen, 22, right, holds a heliostat that has just been formed be he and his crew. The Heliostat is a highly spec’ed piece of bent glass, they are breakable and they have rarely been made successfully so small. Shannon Daniels, 21 left, holds the other side to make sure it doesn’t break.
Katleho Mabeba, Helio100, University of Stellenbosch, Jeffrey Barbee, The Solar Thermal Research Group, concentrated solar power, mini heliostats, small-scale concentrated solar power, South Africa, solar power, renewable energy, concentrated solar power
Katleho Mabeba, 24 is the foreman of the build team. He is also an idea man. “I love coming up with the new ideas here, we are always learning”. 

Helio100, University of Stellenbosch, Jeffrey Barbee, The Solar Thermal Research Group, concentrated solar power, mini heliostats, small-scale concentrated solar power, South Africa, solar power, renewable energy, concentrated solar power
The system is wireless and needs no concrete to be poured, except for the single tower. That makes it movable, cheaper, and much easier to install. On the right the system is pointed by the pyroheliometer, which sends out information to the heliostats about where to focus the suns energy.
Helio100, University of Stellenbosch, Jeffrey Barbee, The Solar Thermal Research Group, concentrated solar power, mini heliostats, small-scale concentrated solar power, South Africa, solar power, renewable energy, concentrated solar power
From left to right, not in the mirrors, stands foreman Katleho Mabeba, 24, Carvin Claasen, 22, and Shannon Daniels, 21. The three have been learning how to manufacture the high end heliostats for the helio 100.
Helio100, University of Stellenbosch, Jeffrey Barbee, The Solar Thermal Research Group, concentrated solar power, mini heliostats, small-scale concentrated solar power, South Africa, solar power, renewable energy, concentrated solar power, Paul Gauche,
Paul Gauche, the Research Group Director stands at the Helio100 installation near Stellenbosch. He says this is just the beginning, they are going to put dozens of these up together in the sunny north of South Africa. Called the Helio 3000, the system is able to be deployed by only two untrained people.
Helio100, University of Stellenbosch, Jeffrey Barbee, The Solar Thermal Research Group, concentrated solar power, mini heliostats, small-scale concentrated solar power, South Africa, solar power, renewable energy, concentrated solar power
Heliostats, or mirrors to concentrate the sun, in a field near Stellenbosch will become of the most affordable, small plug-and play solar solutions in the world if Paul Gauche’ has his way. 

Helio100, University of Stellenbosch, Jeffrey Barbee, The Solar Thermal Research Group, concentrated solar power, mini heliostats, small-scale concentrated solar power, South Africa, solar power, renewable energy, concentrated solar power
The Helio100 South African made heliostat technology is built by The Solar Thermal Research Group at Stellenbosch University, and funded by the South African government and foreign energy businesses.

3 thoughts on “South African team may have solved solar puzzle even Google couldn’t crack

  1. Robin Morris says:

    I would like to be involved in installing these solar heating systems in rural KwaZulu-Natal where the people cannot afford alternative power.

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