Concentrated photovoltaics: the path to high efficiency

Published: November 1, 2008

By Francisca Rubio, Head of R&D Department, ISFOC; Pedro Banda, General Director, ISFOC

The costs of a photovoltaic installation are driving the market and the need for subsidized schemes, such as feed-in tariffs. Concentrated photovoltaics (CPV) is leading the development of future lowcost renewable energy sources in two ways: on one hand offering high efficiency systems, and on the other, being most capable of reducing manufacturing costs. The idea to decrease the cost of the photovoltaic system using optical elements to focus the radiation into the cell to reduce the size of the cells has been in the mind of the scientists since the 1970s [1]. But, apart from a reduced market, there were several issues that did not allow CPV success at that time. This paper puts forth the proposition that the key is to replace the area of active material, which is the most expensive, with optic elements, which are well known and cheaper.

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