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SDG&E installs solar energy pilot project

San Diego Gas & Electric began the installation of a solar energy pilot project Friday using technology touted as more efficient and environmentally friendly.

The 20-kilowatt project, developed by San Diego-based Pyron Solar, features acrylic lenses and photovoltaic cells mounted on a movable track in 18 inches of water.

The lenses concentrate the sun’s rays, the dual-axis tracking system enables the arrays to follow the sun as it moves through the sky, and the water keeps the equipment cool and level.

The combination allows the system to maximize the amount of energy the system absorbs, according to Stephanie Rosenthal, president of Pyron Solar.

“We are able to capture the highest possible amount of sunlight and concentrate it directly to the solar cells,” Rosenthal said, adding that the modules can absorb double the sunlight than typical flat solar panels and thus also maximizes land use.

Rosenthal added that the system has low installation costs, with its low construction profile and minimal additional supporting infrastructure. The company also plans to place mosquito-eating and algae-eating fish in the water.

“The total concept is green, from construction to the powering of the grid,” Rosenthal said.

The system will be fully operational by the end of the year and will help power SDG&E’s Mission Control/Skills Training Center off Friars Road in Mission Valley.

The utility will then spend the next 18 months evaluating the project for broader commercial applications.

“I’m willing to bet that the system you see here today -- it won’t be the system you have in 18 months because we’re going to continue to tweak it (and) continue to work with our partner Pyron Solar to make it as efficient as possible,” said Hal Snyder, SDG&E’s vice president of Customer Solutions.

The project is one of many partnerships the utility has undertaken to meet state goals for renewable energy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Pyron Solar assumed the costs of the project, Snyder said.

SDG&E is a subsidiary of Sempra Energy (NYSE: SRE).

The installation is Pyron Solar’s first in the United States. The company, which targets corporations, schools and colleges, and utilities for its customer base, is working on several installations around the world, according to Rosenthal.

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Videos:

* SDG&E tests water-suspended solar technology

* Pryon Solar installs water-suspended solar technology


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