- Insolight of Switzerland has claimed 29% efficiency for its pre-production commercial panels
- IES-UPM has confirmed the 29% efficiency claim of Insolight
- It uses an optical glass layer to embed a grid of lenses to concentrate light by several 100 times, directing sunlight to focus on an array of high-performance space-grade solar cells
- Insolight says its technology can reduce solar electricity costs by up to 30% on rooftops in sunny countries;
- The Swiss technology firm now aims for mass production saying its technology involves a few extra assembly steps, which can be added at the end of existing production lines
Switzerland based concentrated solar module manufacturer Insolight has achieved a 29% efficiency level for its pre-production panels. This it says is a huge increase from the typical efficiency levels of 17% to 19% for standard rooftop PV modules.
The Solar Energy Institute of the Universidad Politecnica de Madrid (IES-UPM) has confirmed the 29% efficiency achievement of Insolight, which claims that its technology can reduce solar electricity costs by up to 30% on rooftops in sunny countries.
To achieve this efficiency, Insolight said it used a unique design. The panel’s protective glass embeds a grid of lenses which concentrate light by several 100 times. Under this optical layer, direct sunlight is focused on an array of high-performance space-grade solar cells. The cell array shifts horizontally by a few millimetres every day to follow the sun’s movement. This whole system is encased in a slim module, similar to standard solar panels, keeping mechanical parts protected.
Because of the optical concentration method, less than 0.5% of total surface area has to be covered with cells to reach optimal performance. According to Insolight, this enables the use of high efficiency space-grade solar cells for the mainstream market.
The company’s pre-production modules also underwent tests in real-life conditions on a pilot installation at the Swiss Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL). Insolight says its panels can be easily mounted in the industry-standard configurations, on rooftops or on the ground.
The hybrid approach used for Insolight technology that can be assembled as an overlay on top of a standard PV panel, is especially helpful under cloudy weather, it claims. The Swiss firm said it is in talks with several solar manufacturers to license its technology. “Our technology involves a few extra assembly steps, which can be added at the end of existing production lines, taking leverage of production capabilities already in place,” said Insolight CEO Laurent Coulot, and shared that the first product from the company will hit the market by 2022.
So far no concentrated PV manufacturer has been commercially successful with its modules – for both low and high-concentration products. While the efficiencies are indeed higher than for standard modules so are the costs due the more expensive cells, the additional optics and high accuracy trackers that are needed.