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Concentrator Photovoltaic (CPV) System

The Sumitomo Electric Group embarked on the development of a thin and lightweight module for concentrating solar power generation in 2010, started the demonstration of the power generation system within the company in 2012, and after recognizing the excellent results, successfully commercialized the product in 2014.

Product data

Sales began in March 2014

Image of completed CPV power plant in Morocco
Image of completed CPV power plant in Morocco

What is a concentrator photovoltaic (CPV) system?

A concentrator photovoltaic (CPV) system is a solar power generation system with a modular structure, consisting of lenses directly collecting sunlight and power generation cells converting the collected light into energy.

Mounting this module on a pedestal that accurately tracks the daily movement of the sun increases power output per panel surface area compared to conventional crystalline silicon solar cells, thereby demonstrating excellent power generating capacity.

What are the features of the CPV system?

(1) Efficient power generation system with high power output performance suitable for high temperature environments.

Our module uses compound semiconductor cells with high conversion efficiency from solar energy into electric energy, about twice as much as standard crystalline silicon solar cells. In addition, this system is less affected by temperature, thus attracting attention as an effective power generation system that maintains constant output even in high-radiation and high-temperature regions. The Group is currently carrying out verification tests at the plants in Morocco and Mexico.

(2) Thin, lightweight module

Our module is among the thinnest and lightest in the concentrator photovoltaic industry, about 120 mm thick and weighing less than 8 kg. The module is easily transported and requires less labor for local installation, with more modules being mounted on the sun-tracking pedestal, thereby reducing the total cost of a power generation system.

Interview with the engineer in charge
Takashi Iwasaki
Power System R & D Center
Takashi Iwasaki

Tell us about the future direction.

The compound semiconductor cell used in the CPV system was originally developed for use in space but was subsequently designed for terrestrial application. Conversion efficiency is being improved by 1% each year. In the meantime, we are trying to develop a technique to reduce optical loss* to eliminate variance between each product, improve efficiency, and expand the application range. As CPV is often used under strong sunlight, we would like to improve its environmental resistance and expand the regions for which this system is feasible.

Optical loss: sunlight that is not collected through lens or not transmitted to the cell.

Where do you assemble CPV?

Our modules are so lightweight that just one person can carry them to the installation site and assemble them into a CPV panel.

The panel can be assembled on site without using heavy equipment, enabling low-cost installation of the CPV system in developing countries.

Behind-the-scenes technology

Our group has developed a large pedestal that can turn the panel surface to face the ground during the night, substantially eliminating dirt from the glass surface. Our customers appreciate it, as cleaning frequency has been substantially reduced and maintenance of the equipment has become easier.

The area under the module can be utilized for flowerbeds or as farmland.

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