From Reuters comes an update of the latest in concentrating photovoltaic solar (CPV), which is a relatively new technology that focuses the sun’s rays to deliver additional power. It’s backers claim that CPV can be competitive without the need for government subsidies. Recently, a few new companies have invested a substantial amount of money in CPV, with SunPower Corp. and Swiss engineering company ABB group leading the pack.
As of now, there’s not many CPV systems in use or in development – current CPV projects total only 689 megawatts, a small fraction of the 33,000 megawatts of installed non-concentrating photovoltaic systems in place worldwide. Since CPV works best in very sunny, desert like locations, that limits the amount of installations possible. But it’s backers are claiming that CPV can deliver power for 20% less than traditional silicon based solar panels, and that those savings take into account the huge price drops that traditional panels have enjoyed this year.
CPV covers a wide range of technologies with products like those from SunPower and Skyline Solar concentrate the sun’s rays only a few times before it hits traditional solar cells, while other companies like Soitec, Amonix, SolFocus, and GreenVolts focus the sunlight hundreds of times onto the types of solar cells that are used to power satellites. At higher concentrations of sunlight, the less semiconductor material and acreage of land is needed.