New architecture for utility-scale electricity from concentrator photovoltaics

Roger Angel, Tom Connors, Warren Davison, Blain Olbert, Suresh Sivanandam

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

4 Scopus citations


The paper describes a new system architecture optimized for utility-scale generation with concentrating photovoltaic cells (CPV) at fossil fuel price. We report on-sun tests of the architecture and development at the University of Arizona of the manufacturing processes adapted for high volume production. The new system takes advantage of triple-junction cells to convert concentrated sunlight into electricity. These commercially available cells have twice the conversion efficiency of silicon panels (40%) and one-tenth the cost per watt, when used at 1000x concentration. Telescope technology is adapted to deliver concentrated light to the cells at minimum cost. The architecture combines three novel elements: large (3.1 m × 3.1 m square) dish reflectors made as back-silvered glass monoliths; 2.5 kW receivers at each dish focus, each one incorporating a spherical field lens to deliver uniform illumination to multiple cells; and a lightweight steel spaceframe structure to hold multiple dish/receiver units in coalignment and oriented to the sun. Development of the process for replicating single-piece reflector dishes is well advanced at the Steward Observatory Mirror Lab. End-to-end system tests have been completed with single cells. A lightweight steel spaceframe to hold and track eight dish/receiver units to generate 20 kW has been completed. A single 2.5 kW receiver is presently under construction and is expected to be operated in an end-to-end on-sun test with a monolithic dish before the end of 2010. The University of Arizona has granted an exclusive license to REhnu, LLC to commercialize this technology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationHigh and Low Concentrator Systems for Solar Electric Applications V
StatePublished - 2010
EventHigh and Low Concentrator Systems for Solar Electric Applications V - San Diego, CA, United States
Duration: Aug 3 2010Aug 4 2010

Publication series

NameProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
ISSN (Print)0277-786X


OtherHigh and Low Concentrator Systems for Solar Electric Applications V
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Diego, CA


  • Energy telescope
  • Glass reflector dish
  • Spaceframe structure
  • Triple-junction cells
  • Utility-scale solar electricity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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