27 June 2012

HCPV installed capacity to reach 697MW in 2017

High-concentrating photovoltaics (HCPV) - a decades-old technology to tap more of the sun's energy than other solar methods - is poised to finally hit its stride, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 31% until 2017, according to Lux Research’s report ‘Putting High-Concentrating Photovoltaics into Focus’ (part of the Lux Research Solar Systems Intelligence service).

Driven by emerging markets with high solar resources, the installed capacity for HCPV will grow to 697MW in 2017, creating a system market worth $1.6bn and a module market worth $700m (reaching a system price of $2.33 per Watt).

“HCPV has had very little success installing commercial systems to date,” says Lux Research associate Ed Cahill (lead author of the report). “However, as markets shift due to subsidy cuts - from distributed installations in low-DNI (direct normal irradiance) environments such as Germany to large installations in high-DNI environments such as India - expect HCPV to grow at a faster rate than competing technologies,” he adds.

Lux Research analysts evaluated the emerging solar landscape and the prospects for HCPV, which uses optics such as lenses to concentrate a large amount of sunlight onto a small area of ultra-high-efficiency photovoltaic cells. Their findings include the following:

  • HCPV costs are coming down. HCPV systems will turn cost competitive with single-axis-tracked mc-Si (multi-crystalline silicon) in 2017, closing a 33% and 20% gap with fixed and tracked mc-Si systems, respectively. It also will gain cost parity with mc-Si for high-DNI, utility-scale projects in 2018. The cuts will come through lower shipping and labor costs, besides economies of scale.
  • Funding is key to success. Well funded companies that expand intelligently will drive the HCPV market. For example, HCPV pioneer Amonix expanded too soon and too fast and has had to cut back; it is now struggling, which leaves the door open for emerging players such as Soitec, SunCore and SolFocus.
  • Developers are racing to build the most efficient solar cell. With Solar Junction’s record 43.5%-efficient cell and Spectrolab and Emcore scrambling to develop inverted metamorphic cells, the race to manufacture the most efficient solar cell is heating up. A steady roadmap to 45% efficiency in five years and 50% efficiency in 10 years is feasible, concludes Lux.

Tags: HCPV

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