Concentreated Photovoltaics (CPV)
High-efficiency photovoltaic technology for Sunbelt regions
Against the backdrop of climate change and CO2 emissions’ reductions, the market for photovoltaic technology is growing quickly. Considerable improvements have occurred in PV efficiency and reliability over the last decade. Concentrated photovoltaics (CPV) is a relatively new technology, which promises system efficiencies nearly twice as much as conventional silicon PV. CPV systems use lenses or mirrors to focus the sunlight on high-efficiency multi-junction solar cells. Twin-axes tracking systems are used for focus retention. Another advantage of CPV is land-use efficiency, which can be double that associated with flat-plate silicon PV. CPV is expected to become a gigawatt market by 2015, and many new CPV companies have been founded in the last two years.
As of 2010, DNV KEMA Europe has performed two in-depth technology analyses of different CPV systems: one for a German client, the other for an Israeli manufacturer. In the first project, for the German federal state bank Landesbank Baden-Württemberg (LBBW), DNV KEMA performed a technical analysis of the FLATCON® CPV module, made by German manufacturer Concentrix Solar. FLATCON modules use Fresnel lenses to concentrate sunlight by a factor up to 500 and focus the sunlight on solar cells measuring just 1 mm2. Together with the high-efficiency non-silicon triple-junction cells, which were developed originally for space applications, more than 23% system efficiency is possible.
We conducted the second technology-analysis project for an Israeli investor. This project involved a CPV system created by an Israeli CPV module developer using the same basic principle as Concentrix’s FLATCON modules-Fresnel lenses and triple-junction cells.
The projects’ goals were to conduct technical evaluations of the CPV modules and their associated production processes. In the case of the Israeli developer, only the construction plans for the production line were evaluated, because development was still in the benchscale phase. At the client’s request, DNV KEMA forecasted the life expectancy of the CPV modules. Intensive research was performed and site visits were made to Concentrix’s production line in Freiburg, Germany, and to the Israeli company’s site. In addition, DNV KEMA inspected and evaluated an existing CPV power plant near Seville, Spain, which uses FLATCON technology, and a pilot system in Israel.
Before investments are made in a new technology, it is necessary to obtain detailed information about the technology and potential risks associated with it. Acting as an independent expert, DNV KEMA provided the two clients with information they needed to serve as a basis for their financial decision-making, including information about quality and reliability of production processes and the CPV modules themselves.
Project I: Landesbank Baden-Württemberg (LBBW), Germany
Project II: Israeli Investor
DNV KEMA, Germany Project details