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EAI presents Cleantech Snapshots: a quick summary of some of the most interesting and innovative areas in clean technology that will drive the sustainability movement in future.


This snapshot focuses on Solar Concentrated Photovoltaic. Within this page you will find


Overview

  • Concentrated photovoltaic (CPV) technology uses lenses or curved mirrors to concentrate a large amount of sunlight onto a small area of solar photovoltaic (PV) cells to generate electricity
  • CPV systems have much higher efficiencies than conventional PV systems
  • CPV power plants also require smaller areas for the same output
  • However, owing to the high upfront cost, CPV systems currently cost much higher per kWh of electricity, than conventional PV systems and this has been the main barrier for the adoption of CPV

Concentrated Photovoltaic

Concentrated Photovoltaic(Image source)

 

Working of CPV

  • In CPV, concentrated sunlight is converted directly to electricity through the Photovoltaic effect
  • It uses optics to focus large amounts of sunlight onto small photovoltaics surfaces to generate electricity more efficiently
  • CPV systems have an optical component, which concentrates significant amounts onto “multi-junction” solar cells
  • These cells have higher energy conversion efficiency than high-efficiency silicon solar cells
  • CPV systems use trackers to continually adjust the position of the cells to track the sun

Main components

  • Multi-junction cells
  • Concentrating optics
  • Dual-axis tracking

Advantages

  • High, constant output curve throughout the day
  • Matches peak load demand
  • Efficient use of available land
  • Lowest environmental and visual impact on land

Drawbacks

  • It is extremely material intensive with its glass, thick modules, and large tracking systems
  • At high concentration cells heat up and lose efficiency, so they must be cooled
  • Concentrating systems use only direct solar radiation
  • Grow lights useLEDs to increase photosynthesis in plants
  • The system must track the sun; higher concentration requires more accurate tracking
  • Concentrating systems are more complex than flat plate systems and less reliable, because they have moving parts