12 December 2011

Southwest Solar demonstrates CPV system technology

Southwest Solar Technologies Inc has announced the successful on-sun testing and proof of concept of a concentrating photovoltaic (CPV) solar power technology that leverages other core competencies of the firm and will be a new addition to its product portfolio. Product development and testing is conducted at the firm’s headquarters and operations facility at Southwest Solar Research Park in Phoenix, AZ.

Southwest Solar says that CPV technology is widely acknowledged to have the potential to be less costly than current flat-panel and thin-film PV products by exploiting the very high efficiency of CPV cells, and hence producing electricity at a lower cost per kWh. CPV cells have reached over 40% efficiency in production, and are expected to achieve in excess of 50% according to current development efforts. Also, in sunny climates the two-axis tracking of CPV systems increases annual energy production by up to 30% or more, compared with standard non-tracking PV systems.

The firm’s new patent-pending design uses currently available multi-junction solar cells combined with what are claimed to be innovative approaches to concentrator optics, thermal management, power electronics, and ease of manufacturing.

The product demonstrates what is claimed to be a unique flux management capability that enables non-uniform light intensity to be used, enabling integration with a variety of optical systems including conventional concentrating solar power (CSP) solar dishes and heliostat systems, instead of being limited to special purpose-built optics and lenses. This can create broad market potential, it is reckoned. The system translates CSP concentrated light to efficiently deliver 1200 suns to the CPV cells.

Additionally, the new CPV system uses internal liquid-to-air cooling, which can also deliver free heat for on-site customer use, enabling combined heat and power (CHP) applications.

The primary factors that should lead to lower cost per kWh power include high efficiency, a design focus on low-cost components and manufacturing processes, the ability to configure the product to leverage a variety of CSP optics, and the CHP potential, reckons Southwest Solar.

“This new product introduction utilizes the company’s core competencies in our solar dish concentrator designs and structures, thermodynamics, optics, and electronics,” says CEO Brad Forst. “Leveraging our competencies into a diverse product portfolio is key to our business strategy,” he adds.

Tags: CPV

Visit: www.swsolartech.com

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