Funding secured to test revolutionary Bourne-designed solar thermal system

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Bourne-based Larkfleet Group of Companies has secured funding to test its revolutionary renewable solar thermal system in Mexico.

The ‘solar steam’ technology concentrates the power of the sun’s rays through a Fresnel lens array onto a tube to heat water and create steam which can be used in industrial processes.

If successful, the device could be a game changer for areas in foreign countries which are not connected to the grid, such as Africa and Latin America

Larkfleet will contribute £160,000 to the total project budget of £800,000 for the tests which will take two years to complete at a site in Morelos in Mexico.

Larkfleet will develop the pre-commercial demonstrator in collaboration with academic and industrial partners in Mexico and with the support of Queen Mary University of London.

The potential for renewable power generation using a solar steam array is greatest in sunny regions like Mexico, which is one of the fastest growing solar markets worldwide, growing more than 500% in 2016.

It has an estimated potential of between four and six gigawatts of capacity per year by 2030.

Simone Perini, project manager for the solar steam project, said: “Solar steam builds on existing ideas about using solar radiation to generate heat and takes them a step further.

“Following extensive testing in the UK, where the weather is often not ideal for solar power,  we are taking this technology to a wider market where we believe it will have a positive impact on the generation of sustainable and renewable heat.

“This collaboration with academic, commercial and international funding partners to deliver a demonstration installation in Mexico is the next step in commercial and technical development of the concept.

Simone Perini added: “The first target market for our product is the Mexican industrial sector, which accounts for 32% of the country’s total energy consumption. From this, 40% to 60% is destined to produce process heat.

“One of the industries with major energy consumption is the chemical industry, where most of the energy is used to generate steam for heat process applications.”