By Greentech Lead America: Southern California Gas
(SoCalGas), a natural gas distributer, has launched a multi-year demonstration
of an advanced concentrated solar cogeneration system to benefit businesses and
the region. The new technology uses solar energy to power air-conditioning
systems while co-producing renewable electricity.
The new solar thermal technology has been installed at
SoCalGas’ Energy Resource Center in Downey, Calif. The technology uses mirrors
and a tracking system to capture the sun’s energy and focus the sunlight onto
an array of photovoltaic solar collectors to produce electricity and hot water
at the same time. The solar-heated hot water is used in place of electricity or
natural gas to power an air conditioning process to provide 10 tons of cooling,
or enough air conditioning to cool two average-sized homes.
The new solar cogeneration technology was manufactured by
Cogenra Solar, a distributed solar cogeneration systems provider. SoCalGas is
the first utility in the United States to test and demonstrate the solar
cogeneration technology that produces solar hot water, space heating and electricity.
The concentrated solar cogeneration technology is modular
and small enough in scale to be installed on commercial, industrial and
institutional building rooftops. It requires less space than flat-panel
photovoltaic systems and provides more solar power and increased efficiencies
due to its dual production of electricity and heat.
Solar cogeneration improves the resilience of buildings
and processes to grid outage, as well as enables businesses to meet
government-mandated green-energy targets by reducing their carbon footprint
Air conditioning typically accounts for more than 50
percent of a building’s electrical usage. Solar-driven air conditioning reduces
energy usage during hours when electric rates are at peak. This helps reduce
customer costs, greenhouse-gas emissions and provides a sustainable renewable
“This project will showcase new solar technology and
provide a renewable resource for our customers, which contributes to
California’s renewable energy goals. The start-up of Cogenra’s system on the
roof has been surprisingly simple and easy due to its modular plug & play
design,” said Hal D. Snyder, vice president of customer solutions for