Sopogy Liquidates, Another Casualty in Solar Trough Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) Technology

VC-funded micro concentrated solar power firm Sopogy has shut down its operations and is liquidating its assets according to Pacific Business News.

David Fernandez, who was the most recent CEO at Sopogy, told PBN that Sopogy closed several months ago. Instead of massive CSP projects like Brightsource’s Ivanpah in the Mojave, Sopogy promised smaller size CSP for the distribution grid or even the rooftop. The startup’s original CEO, Darren Kimura, was adept at gaining venture capital and hometown support but less than fluent in the economics of CSP in the face of physical laws and Chinese PV modules.

Kimura, founded the firm in 2001 in Palo Alto, California. The startup collected more than $35 million in venture capital and strategic financing from investors including Southern California Gas Company, 3M, Mitsui & Co., Kolohala Ventures, Enerdigm Ventures, Cargill’s VC arm, Black River Ventures, eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and TWC.

Kimura and the company always seemed to be on hand to receive an award, bond, or tax credit in Hawaii but rarely could the firm be found making competitive energy, despite the CEO’s claims.

"We have about 75 megawatts under contract and in the process of being deployed," claimed the CEO in a 2011 interview. In a much earlier interview he spoke of a 50-megawatt solar farm in Spain and $10 million per year in revenue.

Trough technology would seem to have lost its advantage not only to photovoltaics, but to solar power tower technology, as well. Three CSP plants online or coming online:

  • Abengoa’s 280-megawatt Solana parabolic trough project in Arizona with six hours of storage and with a PPA from APS
  • The BrightSource Energy (BSE) 370-megawatt (cumulative) Ivanpah Units One, Two, and Three pressurized steam solar power tower in California’s Mojave Desert with a PPA from PG&E and SCE
  • SolarReserve’s 110-megawatt Crescent Dunes solar power tower outside Tonopah, Nevada, with ten hours of molten salt storage with a PPA from NV Energy

Suntrough also once claimed to find economics in small CSP. 

Eric Wesoff, www.greentechmedia.com

www.bizjournals.com/pacific/news/2014/04/23/hawaii-solar-energy-firmsopogys-assets-being.html

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