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Traditionally, the solar energy industry has relied on silicon to generate power. But silicon is expensive. Today the solar industry is facing a silicon feedstock shortage, while at the same time module production capacity is expected to double, driving up costs through increased competition for material. Power grids are struggling to keep up with peak demand loads, as evidenced by recent blackouts in the U.S., as well as China, Europe and other industrialized nations. Key flat-panel PV suppliers are beginning serious investigations and investment into concentrator photovoltaics (CPV).
Concentrator photovoltaic systems provide a practical solution to the silicon supply shortage by focusing sunlight onto much smaller photovoltaic receivers. Recent technological advances in high-efficiency receivers based on triple-junction cells enable CPV systems to require only 0.1% of the active material of flat-panel silicon PV.
The concentrator photovoltaic (CPV) designs of SolFocus, built on a long tradition of scientific advances by the solar industry, employ tailored imaging and non-imaging concentrator optics. These innovative modules are primarily fabricated of glass, which provides high specular reflectance and structural integrity.
Our CPV designs have several advantages over the comparative silicon flat panel PV:
Our proprietary design yields optimal form and function, delivering an elegant, compact solution that can be replicated at sites around the world. Our patented optical design combined with record-setting efficiency dramatically lower the cost of power harnessed from the sun and delivered to its point of use, making solar energy a cost-effective, clean source of electricity.
There are some unique electro-mechanical packaging challenges associated with CPV systems, from the multi-junction PV die to the configuration and position of the opto-mechanical components. Wayne Miller leads the engineering team for the 1st generation product at Solfocus and will describe how the Solfocus engineering team has solved these problems and produced a high efficiency PV module.
Prior to joining SolFocus Mr. Miller was Senior Director of Engineering at Credence where he managed global engineering services and was responsible for the Interface Products business unit. Previously he was a Senior Product Design Manager at Apple Computer with responsibility for leading product design for all desktop computer platforms, iMacs, and input devices.
Before that, Mr. Miller was Director of Systems Engineering for In Focus Systems where he led product development for the companyís complete line of digital projection products. He also worked for 10 years in various positions in high-performance computing and fiber optic telecommunications at Bell Laboratories. Mr. Miller holds 18 patents. He received his B.S. and M.S. in mechanical engineering from Northeastern University.
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