Solar power that follows the sun

New masts for photovoltaic panels track the sun's movement, increase efficiency.

solar power (photo credit: Courtesy of Etenergy)
solar power
(photo credit: Courtesy of Etenergy)
The idea of solar tracking – maximizing the solar energy produced by photovoltaic (PV) panels by tilting them to follow the movement of the sun – has been around for some time.
Four years ago, the price of PV-produced electricity was about $4 per kilowatt hour.
Now it is closer to $1, mainly due to cheap PV panel production in China. But while the price of panels has dropped to unexpectedly low levels, the masts used to hold them in place have remained the same.
Now manufacturers have started to look for other areas to cut costs and for new ways to construct the masts that hold the PV panels.
So how do you make a mast that is not only more stable but also cheaper? If you ask the people at the Israeli company Eternegy (, the answer is that you go kite-surfing.
Back in 2010, one of the company’s cofounders, an avid kite-surfer, adapted the knowledge he had of controlling kites in the toughest winds by using strings, to develop a new kind of PV panel platform.
“The idea behind our product, on the one hand, is that we are delivering a solution to getting more energy out of the sun through solar tracking, by keeping the panel aligned with the sun so that the sun strikes the panel surface exactly head on,” says Simon Fried, VP Marketing of Eternegy.“You get approximately 40 percent more out of whatever panel you are using.”
Fried says the solar power industry is looking for ways to reduce costs across the board, because the panels are a relatively small part of the industry’s cost structure. One area in which costs have remained largely unchanged is the price of steel used to construct the masts. Proportionally, that is now a bigger piece of the pie and that’s where everyone is now trying to cut costs.
“Our solar tracker is designed to give you an uplift of the energy, but uses something in the region of half the amount of steel that other existing dual-axis solar trackers use,” Fried tells The Report. That reduces the cost of the steel per unit by half – a major saving.
Eternegy’s solution is made of three components: the foundation, the mast, and the platform. The foundation is composed of three concrete blocks on top of which the three legs of the mast are placed. Using three legs allows for added stability while the unique structure uses less steel than the single-legged structure currently used to hold the same size PV panel.
The platform, which can hold any type of PV panel, is controlled by three steel wires connected to winches at the bottom of the structure, enabling an operator to change the direction of the panel without climbing onto the platform itself – an idea taken from kite-surfing. In addition to controlling the platform, the cables also add stability to the entire structure. •
Ti p a , Hebrew for “drop,” is the name of a company that aims to change not only how water and beverages are packaged but also the content of the packing material.
Tipa ( produces a waterresistant film made of polymer that is 100 percent biodegradable within 180 days after undergoing an industrial compostation process.
The company says its liquid-carrying pouches are easy to use and cost-effective.
The pouches, which range in volume from 250 ml to one liter, are light, improve the product-to-package ratio, take up less volume compared to competing products, and reduce shipping and inventory costs.
Tipa says its biodegradable compounds can be cut, sealed and molded using existing production equipment. The company is planning to introduce a new bottle made from its patented materials. Providing soldiers with food and fresh water remains a crucial part of any large-scale military operation.
Water-Gen (, based in Rishon Lezion, says it has found a solution to extract drinking water from nothing more than humid air. The company has developed a number of systems that can be fitted on military vehicles ranging from tanks to jeeps, and the best part is that the soldiers can access the water from inside the safety of their vehicle.
While patents are still pending both in the US and Israel, the equipment is designed to meet the standards of the US military.
The solution for tanks is fitted on the rear of the turret and consists of a fan intake that extracts water from the humidity in the air. Once inside the fan, dust and dirt are filtered out before the water is extracted and stored in four containers. The water, which can be cooled, is then served to the crew via a tap inside the tank.
Water-Gen says the device can produce up to 20 gallons of water per day.
The company has also developed a “water treatment integral system” that can be fitted on vehicles with an internal air-conditioning unit, such as an armored personnel carrier.
This device uses the runoff water from the AC unit, which is both filtered and mineralized before being stored for the soldiers to use as required.
For jeeps or vehicles fitted with a heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC ) unit, Water-Gen has developed a system that can be integrated directly into the HVAC unit, which purifies and chills the water, that is then accessed via a tap inside the vehicle.