ZenithSolar has broken records with its 3rd generation combined heat and power (CHP) solar energy generator, Z20 series, that combines heat and power systems to yield an incredible 72% solar conversion efficiency.

According to Ezri Tarazi at the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design and Head of Tarazi Studio, the generator has reached record levels by using a “semi-parabolic optical mirror for collecting solar energy” to power a local community’s electric and hot water use.

ZenithSolar Z20 Installed. Click image for more info.

The concept of concentrated photovoltaic systems is to use low cost optics to increase the light going into the very high efficiency semiconductor solar cell material, and a specially designed heat exchanger attached to the photovoltaic cells thus reducing overall cost of the system while increasing energy output.

The concentration factor, denoted by X, is a measure of the increased light intensity on the semiconductor cell. X equals approximately the area of the optic collector divided by area of the semiconductor solar cell. ZenithSolar’s system is designed to a concentration factor of 1000 X.  Do not put flesh between the parabolic mirror and the collector!

The ZenithSolar optical dish is based on a patented design, utilizing multiple simple flat mirrors mounted on a plastic surface. The molded plastic surface, divided into four quadrants, is fixed onto a rigid, high precision metal frame assembled onto an azimuth and elevation solar tracking system. At 11 square meters and 1,200 mirrors the unit isn’t small.

ZenithSolar Z20 Specifications and Dimensions. Click image for the largest view.

The concentrated solar radiation is reflected from each individual mirror onto an array of solar cells. ZenithSolar uses field proven high efficiency multi-junction III-V solar cells.

In conventional concentrated photovoltaic systems, the excess heat generated in the solar cell needs to be removed to avoid damaging the cell and to maintain high efficiency of electricity conversion. ZenithSolar utilizes the heat generated at the solar cell receiver to provide usable hot water heating, improving overall solar power conversion efficiency to 72%.

The difference between the new 3rd generation generators and the 2nd generation generators is that the new model is a combined heat and power, concentrated photovoltaic and solar thermal system. What that means is that not only does the system convert solar energy directly into electricity; it also converts any heat captured by the mirror collectors into electrical and thermal power.

The ZenithSolar`s `Optics in Plastic` is the key to manufacturing efficiency and superior product quality achievement. A 2800-ton injection molding press uses advanced custom thermoplastic composition developed by the company’s scientists for reliable, stable and long life operation. The solar dish is injection molded with multiple gate and radius heated runners to ensure even material flow to minimize warpage with a rapid mold fill. Molding is completed in a world-class facility with full material and environmental controls, material sampling and testing of each resin batch. Each dish is subjected to final product check on weighted custom jig fixtures and 3D product scans to ensure product accuracy. ZenithSolar purposefully doesn’t use long glass fibers to ensure a wider recyclable product application.

The system can claim to be the most efficient in the world, and also produces the lowest cost per watt and best potential for energy system cost reduction as well as the highest efficiency in the field.

The uniquely specified composite structural materials, mirror panels, control and electronic systems are obtained from ISO certified world class production suppliers to exacting standards and unique quality requirements to ensure optimum performance and maximum service life. Key suppliers participate in ZenithSolar’s advanced product quality system and are encouraged to provide error free products eliminating the cost of incoming quality control inspections as well as an annual Value Analysis/Value Engineering cost savings suggestion improvement program. Steel, composite and glass systems are specified with up to 100% recycled materials and are 100% recyclable. Electronics and control systems use 100% virgin materials and are not recyclable. Electronics and controls account for less than 5% of overall system by weight.  The net effect is 95% of the unit is recyclable.

ZenithSolar’s production facility at Kiryat Gat, Israel, across from the Intel Chip Fabrication plant does final fabrication, assembly and testing.  Each unit is subject to a series of simulated lifetime testing verifications before sign off and release for customer installation. Each unit is individually released and tracked for lifetime performance with full feedback to production team for ongoing quality and cost improvements.

This post is sounding a lot like a sales brochure, but this thing has high electricity output and high temperature heat output.  ZenithSolar is focusing on customers and projects that will be able to directly benefit from high temperature thermal heat for hot water needs (80ºC) in its home market of Israel.  Yet the unit has high potential across much of the globe.

The price remains an unknown.  With such efficiency, grid rated output a sunny place set up to store heat and feed the grid could do rather well.  Being solar and used where air conditioning is done most of the year the economics for peak afternoon load might be compelling with a binary thermal electric generation set accessory.

With about 3/4s of incoming radiation conversion to heat and power the economics are quite different than paving a roof with photo voltaic cells.  Absent the cost of generating a watt and price installed the ZenithSolar system is still a bit vague economically, but the company must be looking for ways to drive down prices as fast as possible.

With so much company emphasis on the plastic, experienced people must wonder what the lifespan would be exposed to the elements.  This topic isn’t discussed yet.  This writer is hoping a midlatitude installation would payback in 7 years or less with a 7-cent grid payment for kW/hrs. Should a 14 to 21 year lifespan be the norm the unit might fit the U.S. sweet spot for mass consumer investment.  At a total of 4 kW peak electric and 11 kW peak thermal this product has the legs for wider use.

More information is needed and may well come soon as more units get installed.


15 Comments so far

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    wow. very knowledgeable post..

  6. medical Technologist on November 8, 2010 7:52 AM

    Do you people have a facebook fan page? I looked for one on twitter but could not discover one, I would really like to become a fan!

  7. Japheth Sayi on December 29, 2010 2:55 AM

    Can we do business right now ? I want to be the first customer. Plenty of sun hours round the year with no reliable grid system and expensive water heating alternatives. We have some good FIT’s in place.


  8. Finoxy on December 29, 2010 6:52 AM

    This idea is a large scale copy of IBM:s high power photovoltaic solar cell idea. There was need to cool down about 2 thousand grades.

    Basicly idea is point solar rays with magnifier. PI photovoltaic cells doesn’t stand that without cooling so water cooling is essential. Why not use cooling water (in high pressure) for heating?

    Major issue will be who will paying and owning of the heat pipe lines. In Finland it’s most often communal energy company. Can you arrange such agreement in your country?

  9. Kristen Villalobos on February 5, 2011 8:09 PM

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    Iˇve recently started a blog, the information you offer on this website has helped me tremendously. Thank you for all of your time & work.

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  12. John on March 8, 2012 11:23 PM

    What has happened with this great technology. Did it every get going in the market ?

  13. Miesten Terveys on January 8, 2016 4:37 AM

    Any updates about this?

  14. Brian Westenhaus on January 8, 2016 8:58 AM

    Sorry Miesten, the Zenith Solar site is gone.

  15. Timothy on May 17, 2020 8:32 AM

    I need a 25 MW station anyone can direct me toward someone seriously willing.

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