EME 812
Utility Solar Power and Concentration

5.4. CPV Market overview


5.4. CPV Market overview

CPV systems have been much less represented on market compared to traditional PV. In 2012, the only utility-scale CPV plant in operation was a 5 MW project in Hatch, New Mexico, (commissioned in June 2011) (Mendelsohn et al., 2012). However, the number of CPV projects launched for utility electricity production was rapidly growing. In 2012, CPV market was characterized by NREL as follows:

"The limited commercial success of CPV to date is partly due to the fact that these systems are more complex than PV systems. During 2008, as silicon prices were reaching new market highs, CPV systems appeared ready for a commercial breakthrough. Prices have since collapsed, however, and this has changed the economics of several alternative technologies, including CPV. Despite the dramatic decreases in silicon and conventional module pricing, the CPV market looks to be entering a tentative growth stage. According to NREL’s database, at least 10 utility-scale CPV projects, representing about 471 MW, are currently in development and hold long-term PPAs with utilities. San Diego Gas and Electric (SDG&E) holds the majority of these PPAs, both in terms of megawatts (410 MW, or 86% of total) and absolute numbers. One CPV project, the 30 MW Alamosa Solar Generating Project in Colorado, will be the largest CPV installation in the world when completed in 2012. Project developer Cogentrix received a DOE loan guarantee of $90.6 million in September 2011; this was the only loan guarantee awarded to a CPV project. Continued market growth for CPV will be the most important factor in keeping its costs competitive with traditional PV and with fossil fuels. Without manufacturing in the tens of megawatts per year, it is unlikely that CPV will achieve the cost reductions necessary to make it an economic technology, despite its high efficiencies" (Mendelsohn et al., 2012)..

Obviously, there is a certain degree of skepticism related to the economic viability of CPV utility-scale facilities, which currently rely on loans from government and investors. In spite of this fact, many energy analysts predicted fast growth of concentrated photovoltaics during the second decade of 21st century. The following web article talks about this trend based on some actual data. 

Reading Assignment

Web Article: Montgomery, J., CPV Outlook: Demand Doubling, Costs Halved by 2017, Renewable Energy World, Dec 12, 2013. Available from: Renewable Energy World

Check You Understanding Question 4 (Multiple Choice)

Check Your Understanding Question 5 (Essay)

Name some leading companies dealing with CPV installations mentioned in the article:

Check You Understanding Question 6 (Multiple Choice)

Check Your Understanding Question 7 (Essay)

Explain the Levelized Cost of Electricity (LCOE) metric.

Check You Understanding Question 8 (Multiple Choice)

Recent Updates

The above analysis and predictions were made seven years ago. Since then, PV market experienced rapid changes, and the rate and scope of those changes went beyond many predictions and proved to be disruptive to a number of current energy markets. CPV development has also been impacted. Let us take a look at a more recent NREL report that analyzed the status and promise of the CPV technology.