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04 Feb 2013 12:02:45

LCPV to be the competitor to HCPV

With the use of 4.1MW of Solaria LCPV modules at the White Sands Army base and with the slow growth of other LCPV systems, HCPV could be threatened by its lower cost neighbour.

Traditionally LCPV has been seen as a system for colder climates with lower rates of DNI. However the applicability of LCPV is actually wider than HCPV as LCPV can reach high efficiencies even with diffuse irradiance, whereas HCPV only works with direct irradiance.

The broader application not only means a larger market but LCPV uses silicon for its cells meaning it takes advantage of lower material costs. Silicon is a more proven material and familiar to conventional PV investors. That being said, the low number of LCPV producing companies means that familiarity with the premise of the technology is lower, especially as there are several different forms of reflector available, from parabolic trough, to 3M reflector films.

The use of silicon, rather than III-V multijunction cells capitalises on expenditure already incurred in the silicon supply chain. For HCPV, the use of multi-junction cells with a smaller cell area should give it a technological advantage, but until cost can be brought down, it continues to give LCPV the opportunity to increase its market share.

The White Sands LCPV installation is the largest low concentrating installation in the world and if successful could merit further adoption by other commercial and public customers. The lower cost of the system in the short term may still be the deciding factor in system and technology choice. In spite of fewer LCPV installations and smaller scale than HCPV, LCPVis attractive for non-utility scale. That being said, Sunpower also has an agreement to install 6MW of LCPV to Tucson Electric. Given that very little is heard about MCPV and with the exit of Skyline Solar perhaps it is MCPV that has lost the race to competitiveness.

At CPV International 2013 (21-22March, Madrid), the world’s highest profile and most exciting CPV companies will be discussing the opportunities for the CPV technologies in new and established markets In the world. These companies include Sunpower, Isofoton, Abengoa, Soitec, Suntrix and Solfocus.

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