concentrated solar power at the consumer level
Typically concentrated solar power has been a viable option for utility scale projects, there there are more companies moving into the space on a daily basis, even Big Blue (I.B.M.) has decided to play in the concentrated photovoltacis (solar power) sandbox to offer concentrated solar power products at the consumer level. So why is there so much buzz around this sector of solar power? First we have to understand what concentrated solar power is….
With the use of mirrors or reflective material, concentrating the sun’s light onto the surface area of solar cells to significantly raise the output of the solar cells, thus producing more electricity per square foot of solar panels. Concentrated Solar Power is forcing light into a solar cell, similar to forced induction (turbo) for a car.
How does this help you?
Concentrated Solar Power can lower the upfront cost of going solar. Solar Panels are expensive because solar panels are made up of an element called silicon which is in high demand at this point of time. Concentrated solar power uses less silicon in each panel, therefore lowering the overall cost of a system significantly while increasing the output per square foot.
Although this sounds great, there are some issues before this technology hits the mainstream market. Heat decreases the performance of solar panels, therefore concentrating solar power could have some efficiency issues in the long run, also the lifetime of concentrated solar panels maybe limited compared to traditional solar panels. On the bright side there is a lot of innovation going on in this sector, IBM are the masters of cooling silicon (they have experience cooling computer processors which are also made of silicon)…so as the technology develops I can see CPV catching on in the mainstream market.