Editorials

Concentrator photovoltaics still overcoming hurdles to commercialization

Once concentrator photovoltaic (CPV) technologies are more broadly commercialized, they could potentially be the lowest cost and most efficient solar technology in the market. The 2010 market growth should be a bright spot in the semiconductor industry, with more megawatts being installed, a friendlier investment climate. An overall CPV output of 6 gigawatts is forecasted by 2020, while still only accounting for about 2 percent of the solar market.

The last couple of years have proved to be an eventful period for an emerging technology like CPV. Even as the sector has witnessed introduction of several prototypes and commercial projects, it is being increasingly felt that the CPV technology companies currently need to prove their mettle. If on one hand, there is no doubt over the fact that the industry is on the brink of growth, on the other, the industry seems to be hindered by a number of internal and external technological and financial constraints.

From a utility’s perspective, Sacramento Muncipal Utilities District’s project manager, Advanced Renewables & Distributed Generation Technologies, Obadiah Bartholomy, believes that that the CPV industry needs real demonstrations at scale of technologies that have a clear pathway to costs per MWh that are competitive with traditional PV arrays.

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