September 18, 2014

Solar Concentrated Photovoltaic Electricity (CPV)

What is Solar Concentrated Photovoltaic Electricity?

Concentrated Photovoltaic technology uses optics to focus large amounts of sunlight onto small photovoltaic surfaces with the help of an optical device to generate electricity more efficiently than traditional PV.  By concentrating sunlight onto a small area, this technology has three competitive advantages:

  • •Requires less photovoltaic material to capture the same sunlight as non-concentrating PV.
  • •Makes the use of high-efficiency multi-junction cells economically viable due to smaller photovoltaic area requirements.
  • •The optical system comprises standard materials, manufactured in proven processes. Thus, it is less dependent on the immature silicon supply chain. Moreover, optics are less expensive than cells.

Concentrating light, however, requires direct sunlight rather than diffused light, limiting this technology to clear, sunny locations. The world’s desert regions offer a very large untapped potential for generation of clean electricity and there is growing interest in building very large concentrator photovoltaic installations.

How does CPV compare to other solar technologies?

All solar technologies have applications for which they are best suited, but because Concentrated Photovoltaic technology does not require water in operation and produces more energy per acre than any other solar technology, CPV is the most cost-effective way to generate solar electricity. Also, since the sun’s power is literally multiplied, fewer solar cells are needed.

In addition to cost, the technology offers a number of other advantages:

  • •Energy production fits with demand: the combination of high efficiency and dual-axis tracking ensures high energy yields throughout the day.
  • •Smallest environmental footprint: CPV limits CO2 emission, has a very short energy payback time and allows low land coverage without permanent shading. The technology does not need cooling water.
  • •Outstanding durability: The robust glass design without laminate material prevents degradation due to yellowing. The multi-junction solar cells offer a clear advantage in hot regions due to a very low temperature coefficient compared to other photovoltaic technologies.

How does CPV compare to traditional PV?

Concentrated Photovoltaic technology has higher efficiencies and lower overall system costs than traditional PV in sunny and dry climates. CPV modules work in much the same way as traditional PV modules, except that they use optics to concentrate the sun onto solar cells that do not cover the entire module area. This concentration factor dramatically reduces the amount of semiconductor needed but in order to work properly, CPV modules must accurately face the sun. CPV modules are usually used in conjunction with high-performance trackers that automatically follow the sun throughout the day. Solar trackers are utilized to move photovoltaic panels toward the sun to utilize more sunlight. They enable solar modules to remain in the best position to accumulate maximum energy from the sun. The application of tracking technology allows solar panels to follow the movement of the sun and increase electricity production as compared to a stationary array. Solar trackers are attached to solar panels to adjust their positioning against the daily passage of the sun throughout the year as the weather and seasons change. Other than this, CPV systems are built and operate much like traditional PV systems.

Which geographic markets are best for CPV?

CPV technology outperforms other solar technologies in desert-like climates. In the United States, this includes Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico, and Texas. CPV also is an excellent choice in places you might not think of — for example, Colorado and Utah — which also have an abundance of sunshine throughout the year.


KMB Design Group is at the forefront of the escalating solar industry, and is considered a leading consulting firm in the renewable energy field providing photovoltaic design and engineering services.  Our Solar engineers will give you full analysis and let you know how much energy can be drawn with considerations such as location, obstructions and orientations. We will also provide you with the best designs that will give you maximum output. Licensed in 49 states, we have the ability to work nationally without limitations.