Future of Concentrating Photovoltaics Focus of Technology Roundtable at UC Santa Barbara
August 22, 2012
UCSB’s Institute for Energy Efficiency hosted top minds in the private sector, government, and academia for a two-day workshop on aiming high with Concentrating Photovoltaic power
Experts from technology research, government, and private sectors convened for a candid discussion about how concentrator photovoltaics (CPV) in American desert regions could supply the majority of the nation’s energy needs by 2030. Hosted by UC Santa Barbara’s Institute for Energy Efficiency, and sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the Technology Roundtable was held July 25-26, 2012, in Santa Barbara to discuss the topics of CPV cell efficiency, cell costs, technological innovations for cells and systems, and the bankability of CPV projects.
Concentrator photovoltaics offer the potential to provide the lowest cost solar energy in regions such as the U.S. desert southwest where the abundance of solar resource is enough to satisfy the entire energy needs of the United States many times over. CPV technology uses optics such as lenses or curved mirrors to concentrate a large amount of sunlight onto a small area of solar photovoltaic cells to generate electricity. Compared to non-concentrator photovoltaics, CPV systems save money on the cost of the solar cells, since only a small area of photovoltaic material is required.
The goal of the roundtable was to identify what it will take for concentrator photovoltaics to supply 100 GW of solar electricity in the US by 2030. This figure was based on the objectives of the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative and their primary goal of reducing the installed cost of all solar PV systems to $1 per Watt for a utility-scale PV system by 2020.
An international group of key CPV stakeholders met to review the latest research data and form a new roadmap to help CPV reach its potential in the short and long term. Representatives from NREL and the US Department of Energy were in attendance, including Ramamoorthy Ramesh, Director of the SunShot Initiative. Other participants included representatives from Sandia National Laboratories, Semprius, Emcore, SolFocus, Solar Junction, GreenVolts, Abengoa Solar, Soitec, Bay Area Photovoltaic Consortium, Ioffe Institute, Instituto de Sistemas Fotovoltaicos de Concentración, Penn State, University of Arizona, MIT, Yale, Stanford, Ohio State, and the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, among others.
An in-depth roundtable report will be available by the end of 2012. The report, which will be distributed to researchers and industry stakeholders, will identify the group’s key findings and the critical next steps for research and deployment of CPV. Stay tuned to the Institute’s website to view the report: www.iee.ucsb.edu/CPV2012.
One important question on the table was how to advance research in CPV and move into more marketability. Despite its tremendous potential, advances are still needed to make concentrator photovoltaics the top contender for power generation in desert regions. “We have some big common problems to solve, and if we solve them together I think the CPV industry is going to be very successful,” said Steve Horne, Co-founder and CTO of SolFocus.
The Technology Roundtable was co-led by Dick Swanson, President Emeritus and Founder of SunPower Corporation. Mr. Swanson wrote a paper in 2000 about the future of concentrator photovoltaics and the technological advancements that were needed at that time. Other members of the Steering Committee included Richard King, Principal Scientist at Spectrolab; Dan Friedman, Materials and Devices Group Manager at NREL; and James Speck, Professor of Materials and Seoul Optodevice Chair in Solid State Lighting at UCSB.
The event was co-hosted by UC Santa Barbara's Institute for Energy Efficiency and the Center for Energy Efficient Materials: an Energy Frontier Research Center funded by the Department of Energy, Office of Basic Energy Sciences.
About the Institute for Energy Efficiency
The Institute for Energy Efficiency is an interdisciplinary research institute dedicated to researching and developing technological solutions for an efficient, sustainable and clean energy future. The Institute’s cutting-edge research activities leverage the considerable expertise of U.C. Santa Barbara’s highly acclaimed faculty, scientists, engineers and researchers, including five Nobel Laureates. By fostering collaborations, sponsoring research, and expediting the commercialization of new technologies, the Institute strives to deliver significant advances in energy efficiency in the near term. The Institute for Energy Efficiency’s Technology Roundtables are small-group, facilitated workshops that bring together leading stakeholders from industry, government and academia to accelerate the development of a target energy efficiency or renewable energy technology.
For further information please visit http://iee.ucsb.edu
About the Center for Energy Efficient Materials (CEEM)
The Center for Energy Efficient Materials (CEEM) is an Energy Frontier Research Center funded by the Office of Basic Energy Sciences of the US Department of Energy. The principal activity of the Center is a cross-disciplinary multi-institution research program directed at critical energy challenges in three key focus areas of fundamental science and engineering: photovoltaics, thermoelectrics, and solid-state lighting. Innovative materials and novel devices for sustainable energy efficient applications are unifying themes. A highly collaborative research enterprise, CEEM engages participants from five institutions: the University of California Santa Barbara (the lead institution), the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the Los Alamos National Laboratory, and the University of California Santa Cruz. A corresponding education program provides a rich learning experience for undergraduate and graduate students.
For further information please visit http://ceem.ucsb.edu