Burdened by the tag of being a very expensive technology, CPV has had few takers so far. Now, a Fraunhofer ISE led research team has achieved a 41.4% efficiency for a CPV module, which it believes paves the way forward for further efficiency increases in concentrator technology. (Photo Credit: Fraunhofer ISE/Alexander Wekkeli)
- A consortium of research institutes and industry partners from Germany, Italy, Spain, and France headed by Fraunhofer ISE announced 41.4% module efficiency record for concentrator photovoltaics (CPV)
- The team said it was able to optimize the production of 4-junction solar cells, using innovative cell architectures for multi-junction solar cells with new materials, processes and manufacturing equipment
- These findings are the result of a research project called CPVMatch, funded by the European Union, that went on for a period of 3.5 years
A Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (ISE) headed consortium of research institutes and industry partners from Germany, Italy, Spain and France have achieved a module efficiency of 41.4% for concentrator photovoltaic (CPV) technology. The module measures 122 cm². ISE says this is the highest value ever measured for a PV module.
In March 2016, a Fraunhofer ISE led project announced a record CPV mini-module efficiency of 43.4% (see CPV On Record).
Funded by the European Union, the CPVMatch project used special multi-junction solar cells based on III-V compound semiconductors and managed what it calls the perfect interplay between the cell and module optics to achieve the result. High concentration PV (HCPV) systems offer renewable electricity with the highest conversion efficiency with several thin sub-cells stacked on top of each other to convert the solar irradiance more efficiently. Such modules are mounted on two-axis tracking systems that follow the sun’s path during the day.
Focus of the research, that has been going on for a period of 3.5 years, was on industrial implementation of highest efficiencies for concentrator PV modules and thus reduction of the gap between research results and industry production, according to Fraunhofer ISE.
Apart from the 41.4% efficiency, another major finding of the research was that the team was able to optimize the production of 4-junction solar cells, using innovative cell architectures for multi-junction solar cells with new materials, processes and manufacturing equipment.
“We are extremely pleased about these results that pave the way for further efficiency increases in the concentrator technology,” said Andreas Bett, institute director of Fraunhofer ISE. “Photovoltaics is booming worldwide, and we see great potential for this particularly efficient module technology. It significantly decreases the use of resources for energy conversion per unit area and thus contributes to more sustainability.”
However, while CPV indeed reaches the highest efficiencies, its costs are also the highest among all PV technologies. Those start-ups that tried to commercials the technology for terrestrial applications have mostly failed.
In April 2016, Fraunhofer ISE started research cooperation with the research facility of the largest Indian utility, NTPC for the use of CPV in India (see CPV For India).