EME 812
Utility Solar Power and Concentration




Concentrating photovoltaic systems use lenses or mirrors to concentrate sunlight onto high-efficiency solar cells. Light concentration increases the flux of photons to the surface, which increases the photovoltaic current dramatically and opens ways to raise the conversion efficiency. There are predictions that concentrating photovoltaics (CPV) will be the next big trend in solar technology, although the price of electricity delivered by CPV systems is still too high to be commercially competitive. In this lesson, we will study the principles of concentrating photovoltaic systems and see how the concentration affects different parameters of solar cells. Also, we will review materials used for manufacturing concentrating photovoltaics. Finally, in this lesson, we will turn to the examples of recently commissioned CPV plants, some of them reaching the scale of multi-megawatt power generating facilities.

Learning Objectives

By the end of this lesson, you should be able to:

  1. understand and explain the principle of concentrating photovoltaics (CPV);
  2. analyze the effect of light concentration on PV cell performance;
  3. discuss examples of CPV applications on utility scale.


Cotal H. et al., III-V multijunction solar cells for concentrating photovoltaics, Energy Environ. Sci., 2009, 2, 174–192

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

Wesoff, E., Biggest CPV Plant in US Now on the Grid at Alamosa, GreentechSolar, May 15, 2012.