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Global CPV Setting Up For Explosive Growth

The solar market has been dominated by traditional rooftop and utility-scale photovoltaic systems for years now, systems reliant solely upon solar panels to be situated in stationary positions to capture the most sunlight possible. However, according to information company IHS, the solar industry may soon see a new technological-player develop prominence over the rest of this decade.

According to IHS, “the global market for concentrated photovoltaic (CPV) systems is entering a phase of explosive growth” — growth that IHS predicts will see installations boom by 750% by the end of 2020.

Concentrated PV is a technology which uses optics to focus sunlight onto photovoltaic cells in an effort to increase the intensity and reliability of the sunlight hitting the solar panels. This means that fewer panels are required to generate electricity, because the same amount of sunlight can be focused into a smaller area, reducing the need to build larger farms.

IHS believe that CPV installations are set to rise to 1,362 MW in 2020, up from their current number of 160 MW. These figures are part of a new report released by IHS — “Concentrated PV (CPV) Report – 2013”.


A Solar Systems CPV installation in Australia.
Image Credit: Solar Systems

The primary cost which has prohibited the widespread development of CVP solar technology is found in the need to employ lenses or mirrors. However, IHS believe this situation is already changing thanks to “advancements in CPV technology”.

“What is happening in today’s CPV market is very similar to that of the overall PV space in 2007, beset by high costs and an uncertain outlook,” said Karl Melkonyan, photovoltaic analyst at IHS. “However, the CPV market in 2013 is on the verge of a breakthrough in growth. Costs for CPV have dropped dramatically during 2013 and are expected to continue to fall in the coming years. Furthermore, when viewed from the perspective of lifetime cost, CPV becomes more competitive with conventional PV in large ground-mount systems in some regions.”

Installation prices have already decreased to $2.62 per watt in 2013, down 25.8 percent from $3.54 per watt in 2012, a figure that is expected to continue to decline over the coming decade as the manufacturing process continues down the learning curve. IHS forecasts that prices will fall to $1.59 by the end of 2017.

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