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Solar energy

Tandem PV micro concentrator

  • $790k

    ARENA Funding

  • $2.08m

    Total Project Value

  • Project basics

    ARENA Program

    Research and development

    Lead Organisation

    Australian National University (ANU)

    Start Date

    Dec 2017

    Project Partners

    National Renewable Energy Laboratory (​NREL), Solar Energy Research Institute of Singapore (SERIS)

    Location

    Canberra

    Status

    Current

Project Basics

ARENA Program

Research and development

Lead Organisation

Australian National University (ANU)

Start Date

Dec 2017

Project Partners

National Renewable Energy Laboratory (​NREL), Solar Energy Research Institute of Singapore (SERIS)

Location

Canberra

Status

Current

One method we use to reduce the cost of the GaAs cells is to place it at the focus of a thin plastic solar concentrator that produces tenfold concentration of sunlight on the cell. This reduces the amount of GaAs that we need by ten times. The concentrator which are the cells are mounted on a standard one-axis solar tracker – the same that is used in most large PV systems these days.

Project innovation

The Project aim is to develop a commercially competitive high efficiency photovoltaic (PV) tandem system. A tandem PV system contains one type of cell that absorbs visible light and another that absorbs infrared light. Because each cell can be optimized to convert only part of the sunlight, the combined efficiency can be higher than using a single cell type – albeit at higher cost. The best infrared-absorbing cell is a conventional silicon solar cell. Silicon solar cells comprise 94% of the worldwide solar market, and have very low cost because they come from vast production facilities. The best visible light absorbing cell is made from gallium arsenide (GaAs) which is highly efficient but rather expensive. The main goal of the project is to reduce the effective cost of the GaAs cell.

Benefit

If the project proceeds well, then an efficiency above 30% could be achieved at affordable cost. This compares with 26% for the record efficiency silicon solar cell. The advantage of high efficiency is that it leverages overall cost reductions throughout the value chain by reducing the area needed for a given amount of solar energy production.