Technology Innovations Will ‘Ignite’ Concentrated Photovoltaics Market


Ongoing significant technological advances from companies such as Solar Junction and Amonix will help drive concentrated photovoltaic (CPV) installations to almost 1.2 GW by 2016, according to a new report from IMS Research.

The report predicts that the cost of a CPV system will decline on average by 16% per year until 2016. In parallel to this cost reduction, leading suppliers are also making major technological advancements that will help make CPV more attractive in a number of markets.

‘With companies such as Solar Junction breaking cell efficiency records and Amonix capable of producing 34.2 percent efficient commercial modules, and focused on driving down system prices, acceptance of CPV as a utility-scale generation method is predicted to accelerate,’ explains Jemma Davies, an IMS research analyst and the report's co-author.

Although the up-front cost of a CPV system will always remain higher than a conventional PV system, as cell and module efficiencies increase – producing higher electricity yield – the levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) will fall considerably in the target regions for CPV systems (with a direct normal irradiance above 6 kWh/m2/day).

‘It is important to focus less on up-front module prices and more on LCOE and what it means for the PV market,’ notes Sam Wilkinson, IMS Research analyst and report co-author. ‘If a CPV system is capable of producing more electricity at a lower cost over its lifetime, surely it should be a viable option for a PV installation.’

According to the report, one of the main issues that CPV suppliers face is the lack of proven and existing CPV systems to prove viability. However, one of the most effective ways to prove the suitability of a CPV system is to install pilot systems. Soitec has proven the value of such installations after signing a PPA with Eskom in South Africa for a 44 MW system, which follows from a pilot installation close to the proposed power plant.Â

These supplier announcements are evidence of the increasing understanding of the benefits CPV systems can provide in the target regions and the potential for this growing market, IMS Research says. Although only 90 MW are estimated to be installed in 2012, installations are predicted to increase rapidly over the next four years.

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