HCPV technology uses low cost, concentrating optics in place of large areas of silicon to capture and convert the sun’s radiant power into electricity. The optics focus the sun with several hundred times increased intensity onto small areas of highly efficient, multi-junction solar cells in modules, resulting in energy generating efficiencies as great as 34%, compared with typical silicon modules of ~16%. HCPV system performance advantages are maximised in geographical locations that are warm and have high levels of sunshine, measured by Direct Normal Irradiance (DNI). In these regions HCPV:
- generates 25%-40% more electricity than a fixed-tilt flat plate silicon system
- requires less land for the same power output
- allows flexibility of land use and does not have permanent shading of land
- does not use precious water resources
- cells’ performance degrades very little with higher temperatures compared to silicon
- energy generation matches more closely the peak energy demand
Optimal regions are Southwestern USA, Mexico, South Africa, South America, the Middle East and North Africa region, Australia, India and China.
– rated power output is measured at 25 degrees Celsius. This diagram shows the actual decrease in power output when the temperature gets higher for different solar technologies.
Diagram B – energy output changes across the day dependant on the angle of the sun. Because HCPV systems track the sun it is generating at higher power for longer. This is particularly important as the peak energy consumption is generally in the afternoon which does not coincide with the peak power outputs of standard flat plate systems.
Source: CPV Consortium