University of Hawaii Sustainable Lecture Series

Darren Kimura discusses some of the renewable energy technologies being explored here in Hawaii, local prospects for green jobs, and how we can each make simple changes to reduce our energy consumption.

DARREN KIMURA is the President and CEO of Sopogy, Inc., a company that developed a new way to concentrate solar power to create electricity. Kimura, originally from Hilo, began his career in renewables and efficiency in 1992 working as an EPA Green Light Surveyor. He went on to found Hawaii’s own national energy company “Energy Industries” in 1994. Over his career he created numerous companies, created hundreds of green collar jobs and traveled the world presenting energy savings tips for consumers and businesses.

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Darren Kimura on their new Solar farm

Hawaii solar farm is first of its kind in the world

Posted: April 23, 2009 01:33 PM

Updated: April 23, 2009 01:47 PM

Darren Kimura
Darren Kimura

KEAHOLE POINT, Hawaii (KHNL) There’s a most unusual farm on the leeward side of the Big Island. It doesn’t grow anything, but it’s taking a lot of heat.

It looks like something from a science-fiction movie, but hundreds of curved mirrors are specially designed solar panels.

“This is the first concentrating solar project like this in the world,” according to Darren Kimura, the CEO of Sopogy.

Packed into an acre of barren lava rock in the Natural Energy Lab, these solar collectors are smaller than more traditional energy producing ones.

They track the sun, moving throughout the day. Making the most of our island weather to make energy. The key to their success is their shape.

“Concentrating solar panels use mirrors and optics to focus and intensify the energy of the sun to create heat,” said Kimura.

The panels magnify the sun’s intensity 60 times, and heat oil sent through the hot pipes at the center of mirrors. That oil then runs an engine, creating enough electrical power for 200 homes.

The solar farm also deals with the biggest downside to renewable energy. What to do when the sun goes behind a cloud and the panels are no longer producing heat. It has gotten around that problem, by adding tanks.

The big tanks act like a thermos, keeping the hot water or oil, hot, allowing the engine to stay powered even behind a cloud or into the night.

The solar panels have also been designed to deal with the island winds and rain, by turning over to protect the mirrors, making them last even longer. Currently, the Sopogy system costs about the same as traditional electric power plants. But when it comes to solar, the skies the limit on saving fuel in the future.

“We have no fuel costs, we use the sun,” added Kimura.

The Sopogy solar farm is found on the Big Island, but there are hopes additional ones will one day fuel facilities like island hospitals, college campuses or hotels.

Darren Kimura on Tech Box

Tech Box is a weekly television show that brings the latest in technology to you – the consumer. New products are always on the market, and Tech Box provides useful information about them through product reviews. So you can make an informed choice. A colorful, fast-paced, and entertaining 30-minute weekly cable TV special that focuses on technology from the consumer point-of-view. Also highlights how technology influences and affects our every day lives and features locally available products and services for everyday consumer or business use.

Tech Box airs at 9 p.m. every Thursday on Oceanic Time Warner Cable’s Hawaii Channel OC 16.

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Darren Kimura to speak at the University of Hawaii at Manoa Sakamaki Extraordinary Lecture Series

Darren Kimura discusses some of the renewable energy technologies being explored here in Hawai‘i, local prospects for green jobs, and how we can each make simple changes to reduce our energy consumption.

Darren Kimura is the President and CEO of Sopogy, Inc., a company that developed a new way to concentrate solar power to create electricity. Kimura, originally from Hilo, began his career in renewables and efficiency in 1992 working as an EPA Green Light Surveyor. He went on to found Hawai‘i’s own national energy company “Energy Industries” in 1994. Over his career he created numerous companies, created hundreds of green-collar jobs and traveled the world presenting energy savings tips for consumers and businesses.

The Sakamaki Extraordinary Lectures are an annual summer series extending the intellectual resources of the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa to the community. The 2009 lectures support Outreach College’s Sustain Your Brain initiative and provide a multi-dimensional examination of Hawai‘i’s progress in the development of clean and renewable energy.

Download PDF: sakamakilectureseries_2009

Sustain your Brain 2009

Sustain your Brain 2009