Tuesday Feb 16 2010
Roseville solar company introduces "ArrayBot"
By: Eric Laughlin, The Press Tribune
William Jessup University to host 21 foot-tall beta device
A Roseville robotics company is positioning itself at the forefront of what appears to be the solar technology wave of tomorrow. Inspired Solar Technologies, Incorporated, has recently developed two solar tracking devices that are being called “ArrayBots.” The beta devices were recently installed on the campus of William Jessup University in Rocklin, where they will be tested on how well they track the sun. The plan is to eventually have the larger of the two trackers (it’s 21 feet tall), actually hold 1,600 square feet of solar paneling, which would move with the sun to absorb more light at various times of the day. “So far the trackers are proving to be very accurate,” IST chief executive officer Jim Green said. “The whole idea is to help make the newer technology work as accurately as possible.” By newer technology, Green is referring to recent innovations that are expected to dramatically decrease the cost of solar energy gathering. Traditional solar panels are made up of semi-conductor crystalline silicon, a material that has proven to be extremely costly. But a new form of solar, known as concentrated photovoltaic, actually uses a lens or mirrors to focus large amounts of light on very small amounts of silicon. “It’s kind of like using a magnifying glass to burn a hole,” Green said. “When you get a lot of energy on a small point, you create a lot of heat.” He said he hopes the ArrayBot will be used with these new materials. “We really saw a need for a very reliable, durable, accurate dual-access tracker that would enable this newer technology to work the way it’s supposed to,” he said. The alpha, or original ArrayBot was first designed last summer in the company’s Washington Boulevard warehouse, where they were tested for months before being installed in the ground. They were cleared to withstand wet weather and 60 mph wind gusts. Both devices will be at William Jessup for at least a year before they are ready to be reproduced and sold to the public. “As a university, we encourage bold innovative ideas,” said Joe Womack, Jessup’s Vice President for Advancement. “The opportunity to partner with IST and the City of Rocklin serves as a practical paving ground to achieve that process.” For more information on Inspired Solar Technologies, Inc., visit their website at inspiredtech-usa.com.