A Panasonic solar tracking system. Image courtesy of Panasonic
Panasonic announced that has been awarded a competitive grant from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E). The funding will be used to develop a technology targeted at lowering the cost of solar photovoltaic systems, improve their performance and ultimately by using a “micro” solar tracking system.
“This $2.1 million in funding comes at a critical time in the development of our sun tracking system,” said Dr. Xinbing Liu, who is leading research on the solar system at Panasonic Boston Laboratory. “Our groundbreaking project aims to expand the use of concentrated solar photovoltaics to urban areas and rooftops, giving many more people, businesses and communities access to this innovative form of clean, renewable solar energy. This project is compelling because the efficiency of concentrated solar photovoltaic technology is double that of most conventional solar panels used today.”
Currently, concentrated solar photovoltaic panels must directly face the sun and therefore be mounted on an expensive tracking system that requires a lot of space. Panasonic’s work would reduce that cost and footprint, and thereby expand the market and geographic areas in which concentrated solar photovoltaics can operate. Panasonic researchers are developing a “microtracking” subsystem to be mounted in photovoltaic panels to allow individual lenses to always focus direct sunlight onto solar cells. This will deliver high efficiency concentrated solar photovoltaics without a cumbersome two-axis tilting system.
Panasonic Boston Laboratory received its competitive award from ARPA-E’s Micro-scale Optimized Solar-cell Arrays with Integrated Concentration (MOSAIC) program, which seeks to develop solar technologies that will create highly efficient photovoltaic panels that capture more sunlight using less area.