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A technology assessment of photovoltaic concentrator systems (CPV) and their prospects

Stafford, Peter (2008) A technology assessment of photovoltaic concentrator systems (CPV) and their prospects. Masters by Coursework thesis, Murdoch University.

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This dissertation attempts to put some clarity and order into our understanding of the dynamic development of Concentrator Photovoltaic Systems (CPVs) in the world today. The photovoltaic industry is showing high growth and this is being driven by the demand for flat plate silicon modules (about 90 % of the market) and thin film modules (almost all of the remaining 10 percent). In the last two years we have seen a ‘perfect storm’ situation of favourable factors driving the development of CPV in line with the growth in the rest of the industry. The reasons behind this storm are multifactorial, including silicon supply shortages, increases in the power output of high efficiency cells, recognition that ‘climate change’ is a problem that needs remedying. Technology development programs have helped to solve problems that high concentration of sunlight cause, such as photovoltaic (PV) cell damage, tracking inaccuracy and lens degradation. My method of adding clarity was to simply find out as much information as possible on CPV technologies and the businesses that are attempting to develop them and to then devise a method of rating their likelihood of success in this new market.

Information was very hard to come by with companies guarding their secrets well. After examining the data collected, trends such as lenses being preferred over mirrors in High Concentrator Photovoltaic (HCPV) systems became evident. HCPV conversion devices were more numerous in type and overall numbers deployed on the ground. This popularity over Low Concentrator Photovoltaic (LCPV) systems was by a factor of three with only two companies, Entech and Whitfield Solar, developing what I term a Medium Concentrator Photovoltaic System. (MCPV). Finally I rated ten firms as market leaders because of their potential to develop near MW and MW levels of power in 2008. Special mention is given to four firms who may be able to ramp up their production quickly. The industry has been changing rapidly during the short time of my research with firm acquisitions, mergers, technology sharing and buyouts common. An added bonus to my research is the collection of company contacts that may help interested parties keep abreast of this dynamic industry.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters by Coursework)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Engineering and Energy
Supervisor(s): Jennings, Philip
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