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14 November 2008


SolFocus launches 25%-efficient CPV system for medium/utility-scale plants

SolFocus of Mountain View, CA, USA says that its latest concentrator photovoltaic (CPV) system – the SF-1100S - achieves panel conversion efficiencies of 25% (up from 18% for its first commercial system - the SF-1000S - launched a year ago), resulting in what is claimed to be the highest energy density and energy yield for PV systems on the market. The new system is targeted at medium- and utility-scale markets.

The system’s scalable design employs rows of reflective, glass-based optics to concentrate sunlight 500 times onto small III-V-based solar cells - manufactured by Emcore or Spectrolab - that have high efficiency (approaching 40%, more than twice that of traditional silicon solar cells). Like the smaller SF-1000S, the SF-1100S uses about a thousandth of the active solar cell material compared to traditional PV panels.

SolFocus integrates its CPV panels with a tracking system that continuously aligns the solar array with direct sunlight throughout the day as the sun moves across the sky. The dual-axis tracking technology has been developed specifically for integration with SF-1100S panels, providing a highly integrated and performance-optimized system, the firm says and resulting in energy generation that matches peak demand periods.

“We continue to drive up the innovation curve and down the cost curve by improving the performance of our CPV systems,” says SolFocus’ president Mark Crowley. “With the efficiency gains from the SolFocus 1100S, our customers benefit from clean, reliable energy with a small land footprint and low lifetime cost,” he adds.

“We have now reached the point where CPV technology can be a disruptive force in the industry, with a roadmap to change the way the world sources energy in the future,” claims CEO Gary D. Conley.

SolFocus’ CPV solar panels are also the only CPV technology listed by the California Energy Commission as being qualified for California Solar Initiative (CSI) incentives. The panels are constructed primarily of readily available and cost-effective materials such as aluminum and glass, resulting in systems that are over 95% recyclable.

SolFocus says that its customer EMPE Solar will deploy the 1100S in its $103m (€80m) 10MW utility-scale project (announced earlier this month) being installed by the end of 2010 at different sites across southern Spain. The EMPE project is expected to be the largest deployment of CPV technology in Europe (capable of meeting the domestic energy requirements for a city of about 40,000 residents). SolFocus (whose European operations are headquartered in Madrid) plans to begin work on the EMPE Solar project in early 2009 and to start delivering the systems in mid-2009.

See related items:

SolFocus and EMPE sign $103m deal for 10MW utility-scale PV project

SolFocus first to complete ISFOC CPV installation

CPV Consortium launched to steer industry growth in concentrating photovoltaics

SolFocus first CPV systems maker to get CEC approval

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