SPI 09: Concentrating PhotoVoltaics Highlights

CPV News from MASDAR trumps Solar Power International 09.


I was looking forward to the SPI 09 Concentrating Photovoltaics (CPV) session moderated by Greentech Media Senior Analyst Eric Wesoff. For once, I had a few questions prepared in advance. When I sat down, I thought I was being mercenary sitting right next to the microphone front and center. However, as questions were opened to the floor, I still had to rush to beat out two other inquisitors to ask the first question.

SolFocus, Inc.
Ed Gunther (moi!) said: “I have a question for Mr. Crowley. I was wondering if you could give us an update on the project with the Samaras Group. I believe it was supposed to start installing in the summer, and there’s supposed be power delivery by fall, and we’re in the fall.

I was nervous and had to speak in a loud and direct manner into the microphone so I forgot to begin with my name and affiliation.

A: SolFocus President and CEO Mark Crowley said: “Good question. We have in the island in our warehouse preparing for initial installation something on the order of a MegaWatt of product. We have installation partners (and) project management partners ready to go. We are waiting for Environmental permitting on the island. And that is preventing the next phase of the installation of the projects. So that’s the status.

In “Bloggage From SPI, Part 2: A Hopeful CPV Panel”, Eric Wesoff reports on the Concentrating Photovoltaics session in Greentech Media’s Green Light blog.

Morgan Solar Inc.
I was looking forward to checking out Morgan Solar’s redesigned Light-guide Solar Optic (LSO). The LSO channels perpendicular light using total internal reflection to a central glass optic and onto a III-V multijunction solar cell. Only 5 mm (millimeters) thick, the acrylic LSO is much thinner than competing technologies using a Fresnel lens or mirrors. The Sun Simba HCPV (High Concentration PhotoVoltaic) system arranges the LSOs into panels supported by an aluminum spine which doubles as a heat sink. The thin LSOs facilitate a Staggered Row design for better cooling and to reduce tracker wind loading.

Please see “Morgan Solar Raises $4.7M, Opens Pilot Line for CPV” by Ucilia Wang at Greentech Media for information on their Series A funding including investors the Iberdrola Group and Nypro Inc. Nypro is also slated as a manufacturing and product assembly partner for Morgan Solar.

While “Staying Focused” by Garrett Hering in the PHOTON International August 2009 issue (PI 8/2009, p.130-140 reprint) surveyed 40 “Concentrating PV module and system developers” with the subtitle “Window closing for CPV start-ups”, Morgan Solar is among the elite CPV start-ups to watch in 2010. I better research a standalone post about Morgan Solar this time like I was supposed to after last year’s Solar Power International.

Concentrix Solar GmbH
Concentrix Solar contributes with its FLATCON® concentrator photovoltaic technology to the construction of the ecological „MASDAR City“ in Abu Dhabi” was released the Friday before SPI 09 opened. I almost blogged about the Concentrix press release (PR) but opted for “Applied Materials Solar SunFab: By the Numbers” instead for which I received a few encouraging comments.

Concentrix will install a 100 kW (kiloWatt) solar plant as part of a 1 MW (MegaWatt) tender coordinated by the Spanish Instituto de Sistemas Fotovoltaicos de Concentracion (ISFOC) and corroborated by “Masdar awards two contracts for tests of solar technology” by Chris Stanton for The National. The PR does not yet appear on the Concentrix Solar website. I hear the overall Masdar City contract has not been finalized.

From SPI 09 Expo

Energy Innovations, Inc.
Energy Innovations to install Sunflower system in Masdar City” by Syanne Olson at PV-tech.org was the second company named in The National article above. Again, the press release is not on the company website.

I visited Energy Innovations right after the ill planned Expo floor press conference with U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis. Energy Innovations grabbed my attention when the representative mentioned the installed cost was $4 per Watt heading to $3 over time. Energy Innovations will ramp a pilot line in the first or second quarter of 2010 and end the year with production capacity of 13 MW.

In addition to 1200 times concentration and other interesting specifications, the Sunflower technology uses a proprietary Micro-Converter technology to optimize Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) across every five (5) modules. Since 500kW is the minimum Sunflower HCPV system installation size, there are 400 DC to DC micro-converters per building block.

Earlier at SPI 09, I had heard about a competing CPV technology also utilizing per module power electronics validating my independent observation. Slight cell variations which lead to one (1) sun module mismatch are magnified by concentration. Power electronics per module can be used to correct for the exacerbated mismatch. I will investigate the point in more detail.

EVERPHOTON Energy Corporation
With “Everphoton Won Masdar Eco‐City Tender” at ENF.cn (Source: PHOTON) or “Taiwan maker Everphoton Energy lands 80KWp HCPV contract from UAE”, Everphoton was the first CPV firm to preannounce a Masdar City contract.

Amonix Inc.

After snapping two photos and running from the Skyline Solar stand, I got up to speed on the Amonix 7700 HCPV solar power generator. Amonix has been the leader in HCPV having installed some 13 MW since 1994. Amonix has transitioned from silicon solar cells to III-V multijunction solar cells and completed two installations:

Soliant Energy, Inc.
Tom Cheyney’s Chip Shots blog has the Soliant scoop in “Commercial rooftop CPV? Soliant Energy sees millions of square meters of opportunity” at PV-tech.org. For whatever reason, I have not found Soliant very exciting.

One thing CPV could use is consistent jargon. Is it Concentrator PhotoVoltaics, Concentrating PhotoVoltaics, or High Concentration PhotoVoltaics (HCPV)? It depends on how the phrase is used in a sentence. The CPV Consortium favors Concentrator Photovoltaics.


  1. Alex Mathioulakis says:

    Think the Greek Solarfocus project is in big trouble. Samaras has withdrawn from project, and they may have all the partners that guy says but they have no funds to carry out the project!

  2. great article thanks for sharing, glad to see we are moving forward in this important technology

  3. Alex Mathioulakis says:

    Now it is definite, Solfocus will not installl 10MW in Crete, it won’t install a single watt!! and it seems that all the stuff they have stocked in warehouses here will be shipped back to the US. Quite amazing!

  4. Insider says:

    Alex, who lacked the funds? Samaras or the group’s partners? Or did the banks reneged?

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