In isolated areas of the world, electricity is often only available through use of generators which burn expensive diesel fuel. In these predominately poor areas, medical clinics and other essential services struggle to create the energy they need to meet the needs of the people they serve. Concerned students and alumni at MIT are determined to bring solar energy to these areas.
The team has developed a patented technology that uses a mirrored parabolic trough to capture sunlight and heat fluid in a pipe along the mirror’s centerline. Working somewhat like a reverse air conditioner, this device uses the hot fluid and an intake of cold air to generate electricity. The hot fluid is also used to provide heat and hot water if needed.
The members of the team were inspired by observing the needs of people in remote areas while working in the Peace Corps. There are close to 30,000 clinics and 60,000 schools around the world that do not have access to electricity but have enough sunshine in their climate to meet their power needs. A prototype of this system is currently in use in a remote area of Lesotho, Africa. The group is hoping to provide a practical alternative to generators in several of these facilities over the next few years.
As technology continues to advance, Sacramento solar power companies look for ways to harness this technology and provide solar energy in new ways to California residents.