Solar Junction has upped the stakes in, and promise of, solar photovoltaic (PV) technology yet again, besting the world power conversion efficiency record for commercial-ready, triple-junction concentrating PV (CPV) cells. The previous record of 43.5% had actually been set by Solar Junction in April 2011.
The power conversion efficiency of its latest commercial-ready multi-junction CPV cells was measured at 44% at 947 suns, the San Jose–based solar PV manufacturer announced in an Oct. 15 press release. That’s double or more that of the highest-performance crystalline PV cells. Both world records were verified by the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).
“Breaking our own world record cements Solar Junction as an innovator and leader in the multi-junction cell space,” Solar Junction VP for Technolgoy Vijit Sabnis stated. “We continue to push technological boundaries to further drive CPV costs down.”
Blazing the CPV Trail
Solar Junction is supplying the triple-junction CPV cells being used by Semprius, which is readying the commissioning of its first commercial manufacturing facility in Henderson, North Carolina. With an initial capacity to produce five to six MW of CPV cells with power conversion efficiencies as high as 33.9%, the new manufacturing facility could be scaled up to 35 MW and employ as many as 250 people.
The San Jose–based CPV manufacturer is also supplying CPV modules to SolFocus, which this past March announced plans to build Mexico’s largest solar power plant in partnership with Grupo Musa and Georgia’s Synergy Technologies. The proposed 450-MW facility near Tecate is to be built and come on-line in 50-MW phases, with the first slated for completion later this year.
Solar Junction was one of two emerging CPV manufacturers to be awarded two-year grants from the Department of Energy (DOE) in early August to help expand manufacturing capacity. DOE selected Solar Junction as the recipient of a $5 million SUNPATH (Scaling Up Nascent Photovoltaics at Home) award, part of the Obama Administration’s SunShot Initiative.
Added to $15 million from private sector investors, the $20 million of capital “will enable Solar Junction to grow from 5 MW to 40 MW per year in manufacturing capacity,” according to the DOE’s news release. Solar Junction’s CPV cells are manufactured at facilities in San Jose, California and Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
Partially funded by the SUNPATH award, Solar Junction management also announced it is commissioning a sixth production facility in Silicon Valley. The first shipments are expected in the first quarter of 2013.
DOE also granted San Diego–based CPV developer Soitec Solar a $25 million SUNPATH award to accelerate construction of the the company’s first large-scale CPV module plant. Added to $115 million of privately invested capital, the new CPV module plant will enable Soitec to supply more than 300 MW of clean, green renewable electricity to California customers through agreements with San Diego Gas & Electric as well as other markets, the DOE noted.