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Solar CPV reaches commercialisation

The end of this year will see approximately 20 MW of solar concentrator photovoltaics (CPV) systems connected to the grid with expectations of rising to GW level in the next five years, the European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA) says.

After years of research activities for increasing efficiency, improving reliability and reducing the manufacturing cost, 2010 could be seen as a milestone for solar CPV.

This year saw the connection of multiple commercial scale solar CPV power plants to the grid, signalling that solar CPV technology is a technology which is ready to enter the commercial and industrial stages.

Current commercial scale projects demonstrate that solar CPV technology has the best performance in hot and arid regions. The low temperature coefficient is also crucial for the deployment of the technology in the sunniest places.

The module efficiency in current power plants has reached 25-27% and is expected to grow to 30% by 2012.

Additional benefits of solar CPV include:

  • Solar CPV uses simple materials like glass, steel, silicone and very few semiconductor materials, which helps drive down cost;
  • A light environmental footprint due to its low lifecycle CO2 intensity, high recyclability, short energy payback time, very low water consumption, and optimum use of the land;
  • Installation and implementation in the field can be made by the local workforce and with only a few specialists needed, allowing for the creation of local jobs;
  • The technology is flexible in size, allowing for commercial installations from 1 MW to 100+ MW, and it is able to be commissioned in phases.

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