19 October 2011

Soitec launches fifth-generation CPV systems for large-scale solar plants

Soitec of Bernin, France, which makes engineered substrates including silicon-on-insulator (SOI) wafers (as well as III-V epiwafers through its Picogiga International division), has introduced its fifth generation of concentrator photovoltaic (CPV) systems, with enhanced features and performance characteristics designed to benefit large-scale utility power plants. The new product configuration delivers higher efficiency and lower cost of electricity, the firm adds.

Designed to improve the levelized cost of electricity (LCoE) for very large solar power plants, the new CPV system includes a 28kW tracker with a module area of more than 100m2 (the optimum size to deliver high performance while drastically reducing the cost of installation and maintenance, the firm claims). Soitec says that, while using the same proven materials as the previous generation, the new system’s configuration improves on its previous CPV products, boosting energy-generating efficiencies to as high as 30% by introducing evolutionary improvements to the firm’s Concentrix technology. Soitec adds that its two-axis-tracking CPV systems are well suited to installation sites with high direct solar radiation, producing a high, constant power output curve throughout the day and able to match peak-load demands.

The new system consists of 12 CPV modules, each generating more than 2kW of peak power. For this new product, Soitec has reconfigured its Concentrix modules to reduce the number of parts per CPV system, making installation in the field simpler and faster. By leveraging the field-proven CPV cells, high concentration ratio and silicone-on-glass Fresnel lens construction used in previous generations of Concentrix products, the new system delivers the same high reliability and life expectancy.

Soitec is also offering power companies a path to lower costs and faster installation times by using a ‘building block’ approach developed by the firm together with its partners. The new CPV systems are designed to be clustered into blocks of more than 1MW, each using a pair of centralized inverters. This design strategy significantly reduces construction and maintenance costs, says the firm.

“We are ready now to provide very cost-effective deployment of CPV solar power plants capable of generating hundreds of megawatts of electricity,” says Hansjörg Lerchenmüller, senior VP, customer group for the solar energy business unit.

Soitec has begun shipping demonstration units to project sites. Plans call for volume production to ramp in first-quarter 2012 at the firm's manufacturing facility in Freiburg, Germany, and later at Soitec’s planned new factory in San Diego, CA, USA.

Soitec is exhibiting in booth 5513 at the Solar Power International trade show in Dallas, TX, USA (17–20 October).

Tags: Soitec CPV

Visit: www.soitec.com

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