Tracking-integrated optics: Applications in solar concentration

Brian Wheelwright, Roger Angel, Blake Coughenour

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


Conventional concentrating photovoltaic (CPV) systems track the sun with high precision dual-axis trackers. The emergent field of tracking-integrated optics has the potential to simplify the mechanics of CPV systems by loosening or eliminating the need for dual-axis tracking. In a tracking-integrated scheme, external module tracking is complemented or entirely replaced by miniature tracking within the module. This internal tracking-integration may take the form of active small-motion translation, rotation of arrayed optics, or by passive material property changes induced by the concentrated light. These methods are briefly reviewed. An insolation weighting model is presented which will aid in the design of tracking-integrated optics by quantifying the tradeoff between angular operation range and annual sunlight collection. We demonstrate that when tracking-integrated optics are used to complement external module tracking about a horizontal, North-South oriented axis, truncating the operational range may be advantageous. At Tucson AZ latitude (32.2°N), 15.6% of the angular range may be truncated while only sacrificing 3.6% of the annual insolation. We show that modules tracked about a polar-aligned axis are poorly-suited for truncation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationInternational Optical Design Conference 2014
EditorsMariana Figueiro, Julius Muschaweck, Scott Lerner, John Rogers
ISBN (Electronic)9781628413786
StatePublished - 2014
EventInternational Optical Design Conference 2014, IODC 2014 - Kohala Coast, United States
Duration: Jun 23 2014Jun 26 2014

Publication series

NameProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
ISSN (Print)0277-786X
ISSN (Electronic)1996-756X


OtherInternational Optical Design Conference 2014, IODC 2014
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityKohala Coast


  • Concentrators
  • Nonimaging optics
  • Solar energy
  • Solar tracking
  • Tracking-integrated optics

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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