18 January 2011

Concentrix system in Jordan confirms CPV’s readiness for large-scale deployment in hot, arid regions

Soitec Group of Bernin, France, which manufactures engineered substrates including silicon-on-insulator (SOI) wafers (as well as III-V epiwafers through its Picogiga International division) has reported results for its concentrated photovoltaic (CPV) system connected to Jordan’s national electrical grid.

The system — which was made by Soitec’s Concentrix Solar division of Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany, and jointly installed with Azur Space Solar Power — ran continuously through the extremely hot summer and fall months, demonstrating full reliability under the most demanding conditions, Soitec says.

Concentrix CPV systems are also running at other locations in the MENA (Middle East and North African) region. The technology, which is designed for use by large-scale solar power plants in hot and arid regions, provides the highest efficiency of all solar technologies available, it is claimed. The systems are modular, flexible and have ultra-low water consumption. Proven robustness demonstrates their readiness for competitive electricity production and large-scale deployment in the MENA region, the firm adds.

Soitec says that, after more than six months of operation, the system in Jordan has confirmed the performance of CPV technology in conditions of extreme heat, sunshine and dust:

  • Average solar-to-grid efficiency reached 21%, with daily peak efficiencies regularly reaching 25% and beyond (2–3 times higher than standard photovoltaic installations, even in ambient temperatures of up to 45°C).
  • The system has been running on a continuous basis, with 100% uptime, demonstrating reliability in a harsh environment.
  • The measurement data confirm that annual specific electricity yield will be as high as 2500kWh/kW of installed nominal AC power. This high value is a result of the site’s high level of direct solar irradiation in combination with the performance of the system, says the firm.

Apart from the Jordanian system, Soitec also has five CPV systems installed in Egypt (in the Wadi El Natrun desert valley, near Cairo) as well as a system connected to the grid in Oman (at the Ar Rusayl industrial park near Muscat). The firm is also involved in Abu Dhabi’s Masdar initiative to demonstrate the value of CPV technology for the region.

High performance even under very high temperatures, and the fact that the systems require no water for cooling, are two advantages for the MENA region, highlights Hansjörg Lerchenmüller, senior VP Customer Group of Soitec’s Solar Energy business unit. “We have proven with real systems that our technology is best suited for the region, and we are ready for high-volume deployment.”

Especially at locations with extremely hot ambient temperatures, CPV systems perform better than conventional solar systems and hence guarantee high and constant power production throughout the day, Soitec claims. Due to the very low temperature coefficient of their III-V multijunction concentrator solar cells, CPV system performance is much less affected by temperature than any other PV technology, particularly those that are silicon-based, adds the firm. In extreme heat, silicon-based PV systems suffer from three times greater loss in efficiency compared with systems such as Concentrix CPV technology, it is claimed. The technology hence shows best performance even during summer, when electricity demand is particularly high due to air-conditioning demand – all without needing cooling water (suiting power plant installations in arid regions such as MENA).

Soitec says that, due to CPV technology’s high scalability, power plants can be commissioned in phases, shortening the time to operation. The first units installed and connected to the grid can start to produce energy immediately, even while the installation of subsequent systems is in progress. Also, once operational, CPV’s peak production hours align with the region’s peak electricity demands from air conditioning, adds the firm.

Soitec is exhibiting Concentrix CPV technology in the French Pavilion (booth #8403) at this week’s World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (17–20 January).

Tags: Soitec Concentrix CPV

Visit: www.soitec.com

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