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Project CONCENTRPV 2017

Concentrated solar photovoltaics

Power System Research

2017-2017

Salvatore Guastella

The report describes the research activities carried out to achieve innovative and cost-effective technological solutions in the manufacturing of tiny high-concentration multi-junction photovoltaic cells, as well as for the optimization of modules with compact size and components for CPV systems. The improvement achieved in the availability of direct solar radiation data in various national sites is also described.

This report summarizes the research activities carried out by RSE in 2017 Realization Plan in the "Concentrated solar photovoltaics" project, financed in the framework of 2015-2017 Research Plan of Electrical System Research (RdS).

The aim of this project is to reduce the costs of the Concentrating PhotoVoltaic (CPV) technology in order to make it more competitive with other energy sources, overcoming the technological barriers that still limit its full penetration in the market.

The research carried out by RSE, also carried out in cooperation with national and international research institutes and operators, has allowed developing and implementing innovative technological solutions in the whole CPV technological chain, mainly contributing 1) to the identification of new materials and cheaper processes to manufacture CPV cells, 2) to reduce the manufacturing cost of the CPV modules, having more compact dimensions and operating at higher solar concentration factor), 3) to perform an analysis of the causes that can reduce the reliability of the modules and, therefore, 4) to reduce the costs of construction, operation and maintenance of the CPV generation systems.

During 2017, significant improvements have been achieved in the manufacture of high efficiency, low cost CPV cells, such as in particular 1) the reduction of the growth temperature of InGaP and InGaAs (100°C less than the growth in a triple junction cell) to make them more integrable in the quadruple junction structure, 2) the reduction of the cross contamination among IV elements (Si, Ge, Sn) and III-V elements (Ga, In, As and P) in order to deposit, in the same MOCVD growth chamber, SiGeSn, InGaP and InGaAs, reaching a result that has never been reported in literature, 3) the development of postgrowth processes for small-sized multi-junction cells (2,4x2,4 mm2) able to operate at high concentration (up to 1000X) and 4) the development of innovative optics and anti-reflective nanostructured coatings for CPV cells; all this allowing to make a fundamental step forward towards the realization of a 4-junction monolithic CPV cell InGaP/InGaAs/SiGeSn/Ge for high concentration, at low cost.

Furthermore, the characterization of a prototype compact CPV module, the validation of the innovative MPPT algorithm, developed by RSE, for inverters connected to CPV systems and the verification of the accuracy of the low cost solar pointing sensor integrated into the CPV module have been carried out. Lastly, the data on the intensity and spectral irradiance of the direct solar radiation have been collected and analysed at national level, in collaboration with the members of the related national Consortium. In the frame of this activity, the use of the innovative direct solar radiation meter SSIM was optimized and the procedure for the verification of the measured spectral data has been assessed.


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Guastella Salvatore