Future of Concentrating Photovoltaics Focus of Technology Roundtable at UC Santa Barbara

NEWS RELEASE – Santa Barbara, CA - August 15, 2012

UC Santa Barbara’s Institute for Energy Efficiency and the Center for Energy Efficient Materials Host a Technology Roundtable on Concentrator Photovoltaics

Concentrator photovoltaics offer the potential to provide the lowest cost electricity in regions such as the US desert southwest, where the solar resource is enough to satisfy the entire energy needs of the US many times over.  Concentrator photovoltaics (CPV) is a technology that 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 because only a small area is required. However, advances are still needed to make concentrator photovoltaics the clear choice for power generation in areas with high amounts of direct sunlight. 

On July 25-26th, 2012 the Institute for Energy Efficiency and the Center for Energy Efficient Materials brought together key stakeholders from the private sector, academia and government for a highly interactive, facilitated discussion to inform and focus research in the CPV field.  This Technology Roundtable provided a unique opportunity to shape the direction of research and innovation in this promising area.  The title of the roundtable was Focus on Concentrator Photovoltaics: from cell to system.  Topics included required cell efficiencies, cell costs, technological innovations for both cells and systems, and the bankability of CPV projects.  

The overall 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.  

The Technology Roundtable was led by Dick Swanson, President Emeritus and Founder, SunPower Corporation, along with a professional co-facilitator.  Mr. Swanson wrote a paper in 2000 titled The Promise of Concentrators which discussed the future of concentrator photovoltaics and the technological advancements that were needed at that time.  This workshop was an opportunity to reassess the industry, its potential and its challenges.  It also provided an opportunity to review the latest data and to form a new roadmap to help the CPV industry reach its potential, in the short and long term.

Representatives from NREL and the U.S. Department of Energy were in attendance, including the Director of DOE’s SunShot Initiative.  Other participants included representatives from Sandia National Laboratories, Semprius, Emcore, Spectrolab, SolFocus, Solar Junction, GreenVolts, Abengoa Solar, Soitec, the Bay Area Photovoltaic Consortium, Ioffe Institute, ISFOC, Fraunhofer CSE, Penn State, University of Arizona, MIT, Yale, Stanford, Ohio State, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, and UCSB, among others.

A post-roundtable report is being prepared identifying the group’s key findings and next steps, which will be distributed to inform and expedite research in the field.  Stay tuned to the Institute’s website to view the report: www.iee.ucsb.edu/CPV2012

Steering Committee:

  • Dick Swanson, President Emeritus and Founder, SunPower Corporation
  • Richard King, Principal Scientist, Spectrolab
  • Dan Friedman, Group Manager, III-V Materials and Devices, National Renewable Energy Lab
  • Jim Speck, Professor, College of Engineering, UC Santa Barbara

This 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).  Sponsors for this Technology Roundtable included the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

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.
 

Quotes from Roundtable participants:

When we heard about this Technology Roundtable, in particular the people who were going to be invited - industry pioneers in CPV as well as researchers at universities and other national labs - we pounced on the opportunity to come.

-  Vipin Gupta
   Principal Member of Technical Staff, Sandia National Laboratories

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. This meeting is one of the few I’ve been to for quite a while that actually brought that out.

-  Steve Horne
   Co-founder and CTO, SolFocus

The best part of this Technology Roundtable was having people come together and have some very honest conversations about the interface between academia, government and industry and how to solve some very real problems, both in the near term and in the long term for our industry.

-  Vijit Sabnis
   Co-founder and VP of Technology, Solar Junction

In this meeting I was very impressed, thanks to your organization to say the truth, that we have been able to get a common view of what are the challenges for this promising technology.  And the resulting document I hope will explain what we’re trying to do and provide solutions for the future.

-  Antonio Luque
   Professor, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid

I was both surprised and impressed that the Department of Energy was interested in working to help the CPV industry move forward and expand. I believe that this event is going to lead to real progress for the CPV industry.

 -  Wayne Miller
    VP of Engineering, GreenVolts

Click here to download the News Release 
Click here to download photos 

MEDIA CONTACT:
Mikaela Mennen
805.893.5496
mikaela [at] iee [dot] ucsb [dot] edu

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