Berks County Sustainable Energy Company Awarded Grant
The Met-Ed/Penelec Sustainable Energy Fund awarded a
$340,000 grant to Solarflux Energy Technologies Inc., a Berks County company
developing an innovative solar dish concentrator capable of delivering clean,
inexpensive thermal energy for a wide range of applications.
Solarflux, based in Bern Township, will use the grant to
improve the efficiency of constructing the parabolic dish concentrators. “With
this funding, we plan to increase production speed and capacity and
dramatically reduce unit costs,” said Naoise Irwin, chairman of Solarflux.
Berks County Community Foundation (BCCF) and the CommunityFoundation for the Alleghenies (CFA) administer the Met-Ed/Penelec Sustainable
Energy Fund, which provides financial support to promote renewable and clean
energy, energy conservation and efficiency, and sustainable energy businesses.
“By making an investment that allows Solarflux to refine the
research and development of its solar concentrator dish, the Met-Ed/Penelec
Sustainable Energy Fund is helping advance technology that will ultimately give
people another option for renewable power,” said Heidi Williamson, senior vice
president for programs and initiatives at BCCF. “Supporting this kind of
innovation in Pennsylvania is an important part of the fund’s mission.”
CFA Associate Director Angie Berzonski said the project was
an ideal fit for the aims of this Met-Ed/Penelec Sustainable Energy Fund grant
opportunity. “This grant was part of a strategic investment opportunity that
our advisory committee identified after researching categories of clean energy
development in need of funding in order to move forward,” Berzonski said. “It
sought to support research and development efforts that would ultimately help
to close the gap on the cost difference between traditional energy technologies
Made from low-cost, resilient aluminum reflectors, the FOCUS
parabolic reflector dish follows the sun on two axes throughout the day,
maximizing the capture of solar radiation. Solar radiation reflects off the
concentrator onto a central receiver, heating a circulating thermal fluid. The
heated fluid then passes through a heat exchanger to create hot water, high
temperature steam or other high enthalpy fluids.
With 50 percent of global energy consumption in the form of
heat, the market for thermal energy is vast. The FOCUS provides a clean,
inexpensive source of thermal energy for a wide range of applications,
including industrial process heat, space heating and cooling, hot water, water
desalination and purification and remote and distributed power applications.
The Metropolitan Edison Company Sustainable Energy Fund of Berks County Community Foundation and the Pennsylvania Electric Company Sustainable Energy Fund of the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies distribute money in the form of grants and investments for a variety of projects within the territories originally served by the two electric companies. The two funds share an advisory committee and are known in the singular as the Met-Ed/Penelec Sustainable Energy Fund. More information, as well as maps and zip codes of areas serviced by Met Ed and Penelec, is available at bccf.org/sustainable-energy-fund.