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Report: Concentrating Photovoltaic Solar More Competitive

CPV solar trough (Sandia National Lab)

CPV solar trough (Sandia National Lab)

Traditional flat-plate photovoltaic (PV) solar technologies can expect to face increasing pressure in public utility markets from concentrating photovoltaic (CPV), according to a new study by GTM Research. The report — Concentrating Photovoltaics 2011: Technology, Costs and Markets — tracks 170 CPV projects underway by 70 companies, as well as cost and demand forecasts through 2015.

According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, CPV systems use lenses or mirrors to concentrate sunlight onto high-efficiency solar cells. While CPV solar cells are typically more expensive than cells used in conventional flat-plate photovoltaic systems, their concentration decreases the required cell area while also increasing the cell efficiency.

GTM Research expects that new CPV installations worldwide will increase from less than 5 megawatts (MW) in 2010 to more than 1,000 MW by 2015. The report indicates that CPV’s superior economics will make it possible for the technology to win projects in high-solar resource locations. GTM attributes this economic advantage to CPV’s lower levelized cost of electricity than non-concentrating PV alternatives.

The report notes that the global CPV market is dominated by three manufacturers: Concentrix Solar, Amonix, and SolFocus. These three companies have partnered with solar systems developers and power producers such as Tenaska Solar, Cogentrix, and Sol Orchard to build CPV power plants in the U.S.

GTM Research is a division of Greentech Media in Boston, Massachusetts.

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