Global Sun Engineering’s solar concentrator is mobile at two points, allowing the unit to track sunlight from morning to evening.

Global Sun Engineering’s solar concentrator is mobile at two points, allowing the unit to track sunlight from morning to evening.

Matarenki Light is the name given to a revolutionary product slated for release next year in the growing market for solar energy. It’s described as a “solar concentrator” that makes more effective use of the sun’s energy, converting it into electricity and heat for housing and industry. Interested American investors believe this small Luleå-based company is sitting on an industry that could be worth a billion dollars in a matter of just a few years.

“Sweden is not really the best market to present solar as the most economic alternative for the customer, even if a few orders have been placed here”, comments Björn Eklöv, MD and one of the founders of Global Sun Engineering.

Just two years ago, Eklöv started the company together with a group of old university friends from Luleå University of Technology. Their goal was to do something positive for the environment while running a company with long-term profit potential.

The primary markets are countries with high energy prices and plentiful hours of sunlight. Interest for the product is already great, with orders continuously coming in for the as yet incomplete product. Advance orders have been received for approximately 500 systems from property companies in Spain, as well as other projects in Turkey, Chile, the United States and other countries. Other potential customers include businesses such as laundries, breweries and process industries that depend on electricity or gas to heat water for production processes.

Fast, profitable investment

In contrast to the alternatives which tend to use expensive solar cells on panels, Global Sun Engineering replaces a large proportion of the solar cell surface with hardened mirror glass. The solar concentrator is mobile at two points, allowing it to track the sun from morning to evening and ensuring the sun’s rays always meet the unit at a right angle.

The product has been manufactured in two sizes, with a focus on the model Matarenki Light 5.3. Delivering 900 W of electricity and 4,200 W of heat, the unit is designed to supply an average house in California or Italy with space heating, hot water and electricity during hours of sunshine.

If more energy is required, several units can be connected together.

 

Björn Eklöv, CEO for Global Sun Engineering.

Björn Eklöv, CEO for Global Sun Engineering.

“Compared with the fixed mounted non-tracking systems, the product can deliver solar-generated electricity and heat at half the cost. In countries where sunlight is plentiful, such as in Italy or California, you can already save on your investment after just three to five years,” Eklöv says.

The solar concentrator is manufactured from light, high-performance material and is delivered as a flat pack to simplify logistics. It’s also easy to install, designed to allow homeowners to have the system working in just an hour or so with minimal tools and expertise.

“Each kilowatt hour (kWh) is energy produced without releasing carbon dioxide. The production target that we have identified in the USA and the European market means that in the long run, we will be able to contribute to the closure of coal-fired power stations”, says Björn Eklöv.

A need for funding

A prototype is now ready which is currently undergoing essential quality certification. But to begin production, the company is looking for capitalization of about SEK 30 million (US$4.2 million) from external investors to finance the project.

“We are working with a broker in Switzerland who has put us in contact with three interested investors in the USA. Solar energy is huge out there after Obama’s new strategy to transform the entire energy system. Of course we would like to use Swedish capital, but that’s tough with the low level of understanding here at home of solar energy’s enormous growth potential. It’s a shame that good technologists disappear from Sweden and take their talent to the U.S.,” says Eklöv.

If everything goes to plan, Eklöv and his old technology students are set to deliver the Matarenki Light premier during the first quarter of 2010.

Annual market for solar energy in the USA

Year

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

Moderate scenario

340

1,000

1,200

1,500

2,000

Policy-driven scenario (MW)

1,200

3,000

3,400

3,900

4,500

Source: EPIA, European Photovoltaic Industry Association

Article published in September 2009