What Is Concentrated Solar PV Technology?
Solar power is the conversion of sunlight into electricity, either directly using photovoltaics (PV), or indirectly using concentrated solar power. Concentrated solar power systems use lenses or mirrors and tracking systems to focus a large area of sunlight into a small beam. Photovoltaic cells convert light into an electric current using the photovoltaic effect and are the basis for concentrated solar photovoltaic technology.
Just when people were starting to think that solar technology had reached its peak, concentrated solar photovoltaic systems made their debut on the scene, and with much fanfare. Essentially a sub category of photovoltaic technology, a concentrated solar photovoltaic system can be defined as a solar power generation technology that relies on lenses and curved mirrors to focus sunlight into small but very efficient multi-junction solar cells in order to generate electricity.
Research into CSPV technology dates back to the 70s. As a matter of fact, a concentrated photovoltaic system was manufactured towards the close of the decade. However, it’s mainstream uptake is a fairly recent phenomenon. For instance, while installations of this solar power technology accounted for 330 MV of new power installations by the end of 2014, 2013 installations accounted for just 50 MW. Still, it is worth noting that this stark difference indicates a rapid uptake of this solar power technology, something that is more than likely to continue into the foreseeable future.
The International Energy Agency projected in 2014 that under its “high renewables” scenario, by 2050, solar photovoltaics and concentrated solar power would contribute about 16 and 11 percent, respectively, of the worldwide electricity consumption, and solar would be the world’s largest source of electricity. Most solar installations would be in China and India.
Concentrated solar PV power differs considerably from convention photovoltaic solar power. Unlike typical photovoltaic solar power, CSPV is more effective since it uses mirrors or lenses to concentrate solar energy into highly efficient solar cells. The downside of this technology is that it requires the use of tracking systems and cooling systems to be most effective, not to mention it is more dependent on direct sunlight that normal photovoltaic solar power generation modules, which obviously limits locations where it can be used.
CSPV is also not to be confused with concentrated solar power (CSP), which also goes by the name concentrated solar thermal power. While the former uses photovoltaic effect to generate electricity, CSP relies on heat from the sun to create steam that drives a turbine, which in turn creates electricity from a generator. Currently, concentrated solar power is more common than concentrated solar photovoltaic power, but the gap is narrowing, especially given the high-efficiency levels of concentrated solar photovoltaic technology. Commercial CSPV systems have reached record efficiency levels of 42%, which is a remarkable feat for any electricity generation system.
Companies Involved With Concentrated Solar PV
Semprius, located in the US is one of the pioneers in the development of concentrated photovoltaic solar modules. The company seeks to offer cost-effective, efficient and sustainable solar power solutions to commercial and other clients.
2. Suncore Photovoltaic Technology Company
The force behind Golmud 1 and 2 in China, the two largest CSPV projects in the world, this Suncore Photovoltaics is a force to reckon with in this budding solar power sector.
Headquartered in Spain, Zytech operates in several other countries around the world in Europe, Asia, South, and even North America. The company manufactures solar modules including concentrated photovoltaic solar modules.
4. GPIII Solar
GPIII Solar is an Italian company that focuses on the manufacture of concentrated photovoltaic solar modules.
5. Zsun Solar
This Chinese company focuses in the production of medium and high concentration photovoltaic solar modules.
6. Solar Systems
The Australian concern focuses in the manufacture of high capacity high concentration photovoltaic solar modules for use in a wide range of applications.
7. Silicon CPV
Regardless of what the name suggests, this is actually a UK company located in Essex. The company creates concentrated photovoltaic solar systems for utility-scale use among a host of other green energy solutions focusing on the use of solar power.
8. Jiangsu White Rabbit Group
Located in Jiangsu, China, this company produces high concentration photovoltaic solar modules.
HTSun is an Italian company that manufactures retail and commercial level concentrated photovoltaic solar systems.
10. Pacific SolarTech
Pacific SolarTech is a US company located in Fremont, California. It’s concentrated photovoltaic power modules are intended for utility-scale plants and grid-connected power systems.
Top 7 Concentrated Solar PV Projects
1. Golmud 2
This project is located in Golmud in Qinghai province in China, has a power generation capacity of 79.83 MW of power. As the name suggests, it is the second project by that name and is operated by Suncore Photovoltaic Technology Company.
2. Golmud 1
The project is, just like Golmud 2, located in Golmud, which is in Qinghai province in China. Suncore hosts this massive CSPV project, which has a power generation capacity of 57.96 MW.
3. Alamosa Solar Project
This project is located in Alamosa, Colorado, in the United States. The project has the capacity to generate 35.28 MW.
Hami I is located in China, in Hami, which is found in Xinjiang province. This concentrated photovoltaic solar project has a power generation capacity of 2.64 MW.
This concentrated solar pv project is located in Newberry Springs, which is found in California, United States. The project is capable of generating 1.68 MW.
This project, located in California, United States, has a peak power capacity of 1.61 MW.
7. Nichols Farms
The CSPV project is found in Hanford, California, in the US. This project peak capacity of 1.28 MW.
What’s Next For Concentrated Solar PhotoVoltaic Technology?
Despite the excitement solar energy has generated among fanatics of green energy, its adoption has been hindered by a number of factors such as inefficiency and cost. CSPV has the potential to change all this. This solar power technology is highly efficient, with recent studies indicating that efficiencies of 46% can be attained on commercial concentrated solar power systems, with general efficiency rates expected to rise above 50% in a decade or so.
CSPV use is also picking up due to the shortcomings of concentrated solar power (CSP), which is not readily scalable. Developers of solar power projects are increasingly turning to concentrated photovoltaic technology, effectively stalling the development of CSP projects. It can be reasonably expected that the popularity of concentrated solar photovoltaic power is set to grow over time, especially as an alternative to CSP.
Additionally, CSPV helps reduce costs by lowering balance of system costs. For those who are unfamiliar with this phrase, the balance of system costs includes the cost of switches, wiring, heat sinks, battery bank, mounting systems and so forth, which a solar system requires to be of use in a home or commercial building. In short, concentrated solar photovoltaic power makes installation of a solar power system cheaper, yet more feasible. Considering that cost is one of the major deterrents to the use of solar power across the globe, the technology is, therefore, a remarkable achievement as it promotes the use of solar energy by making it more affordable. Actually, CSPV projects are undercutting CSP projects right and left all around the world – Australia, US, China, Spain, and so on.
Large scale CSPV projects will also help make the use of this form of solar technology more commonplace over time. For instance, China, which is currently home to the two largest concentrated solar photovoltaic projects in the world, has plans to create many more solar generation projects by 2020. The US is also on track to create a significant number of concentrated solar photovoltaic power, which will make photovoltaics technology account for nearly 10% of the country’s power by the year 2025. Around the world, concentrated solar photovoltaic power is projected to grow in double-digit figures every year through 2020 to reach a total of 1,362 MW in the year 2020.
In the last 10 years, the prices for solar PV cells have dropped significantly as a result of production scaling, production efficiency, and cell efficiency. This cost reduction seems to have slowed the adoption of concentrated solar photovoltaic research but once the product stabilizes, we may see renewed emphasis on the concentrating components and manufacturing.
Imagine if researchers can raise the efficiency of solar PV cells by another 20% what this would mean for the overall efficiency capability of a concentrated solar PV arrangement! Would this mean that 70 % overall efficiency would be achievable? This would enable the world to move even faster towards a fossil fuel free economy and the freedom from further environmental devastation from changing the climate.
Here is another video of a recent concentrated solar pv project.
About the source for the video:
Adani Group is an Indian multinational conglomerate company headquartered in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India. Its diversified businesses include resources, logistics, agribusiness and energy sectors. The Group is the largest port developer and operator in India with Mundra Port being the country’s largest commercial port. It owns Fortune, India’s largest edible oil brand through a joint venture with Wilmar International in Singapore. The Flagship Company of the Adani group is Adani Enterprises Limited. In April 2014, it added the 4th unit of 660 MW at its Tiroda Power plant, making Adani power the largest private power producer of the country. In 2015, Adani was ranked India’s most trusted infrastructure brand by The Brand Trust Report 201.