The expansion will allow ReflecTech to increase the output and variety of its low cost, glass-free mirror panels for use in utility-scale concentrating solar power (CSP) plants. The DOE’s MTC program attracted a combined pool of applications totaling $7.7 billion worth of manufacturing tax credits with a final authorization of $2.3 billion. The stated goal of the MTC is to “grow the domestic manufacturing industry for clean energy, thereby supporting the larger goals of ARRA to stimulate economic growth, create jobs, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions” (www.energy.gov/recovery/48C.htm).
The ReflecTech® mirror panels will use ReflecTech® Mirror Film: a silvered polymer film developed through DOE-supported research at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory exclusively licensed to ReflecTech, Inc. and the only mirror film proven for outdoor use in solar concentrators. The parabolic-shaped glass mirrors that have traditionally been used in most CSP plants to collect and concentrate solar radiation are expensive, heavy, and fragile; routinely fracturing or shattering in the desert winds.
When glass reflectors break, fragments often strike and damage the expensive glass-encased thermal receivers, further compounding the problem and raising the cost of repair. The ReflecTech® mirrors will be shatterproof and will match or exceed the optical and structural characteristics of glass mirrors at a lower cost, with proven durability.
ReflecTech has gone to great lengths to enhance the optical performance of its product while successfully overcoming the material challenges that limited the durability of previous generation mirror films. Mirror panels made with ReflecTech® Mirror Film installed seven years ago at Solar Energy Generating Station (SEGS) VI in the Mojave Desert, tested yearly, have maintained their high reflectance (without delamination or tunneling – problems identified with mirror films of the past). Furthermore, accelerated weather exposure testing of the film at the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) and Arizona Desert Testing, LLC (AZTEST) shows no mechanical failures and no decrease in the reflectance of the film, even after the equivalent of 10 years of exposure.
The novel mirror panels from ReflecTech will be lightweight and unbreakable – making them easier to manufacture and install. The resulting reduction in cost of energy delivered will help to accelerate CSP’s emergence into energy markets and accelerate the shift away from fossil fuels. Furthermore, whereas all of the world’s utility-scale CSP systems built so far use glass mirrors, the ReflecTech® panels will offer an alternative with considerably fewer supply constraints due to the high volume production capabilities of ReflecTech® Mirror Film.
“The tax credit makes this capital investment possible for us by absorbing some of the financial risk,” said Randy Gee, ReflecTech, Inc’s Chief Technology Officer. “It’s just what we need to get our glass-free mirrors in production for the clean energy economy”. To be considered for allocation of the 30% tax credit, ReflecTech was required to submit an extensive application for review by the Department of Energy. The application included data on the potential for greenhouse gas reduction, creation of jobs, and marketability of the product.
The exact timing of the facility upgrade will depend on market factors, but must be finished within 4 years to receive the investment tax credit. When the facility is fully operational, it is expected to produce 10,000,000 ft2 of mirror panels per year and employ 24 people. Over the expected lifetime of the factory, the mirror panels are expected to help keep 141,562 metric tons of CO2 out of the atmosphere.
ReflecTech, Inc. markets ReflecTech® Mirror Film which is used primarily to reflect sunlight onto the receivers of Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) collector systems such as parabolic troughs, parabolic dishes, and central receiver heliostats. ReflecTech® Mirror Film also has applications in concentrating photovoltaic (CPV) systems, and other emerging CSP technologies such as linear Fresnel reflectors.
ReflecTech® is the only high-reflectance mirror film proven for outdoor applications. ReflecTech® Mirror Film was developed in partnership with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, CO.