An in-depth study of the concentrated photovoltaics (CPV) market conducted by the University of Jaen (Spain) and CPV Today has revealed that grid parity could be on the cards for the technology as soon as 2011. Focussing on areas of high irradiance, the study has stated that efficiency increases in cells and optics will be necessary to allow for this target to be reached so soon.
The report, dubbed ‘The CPV Challenge (Part I): Achieving Grid Parity,’ claims that CPV holds a wealth of potential for huge cost reductions given its use of triple-junction cells that can reach efficiencies of 35% to 39% coupled with concentrating optic elements. These multi-junction cells use up to 1775 times less cell surface than conventional cells of 14% efficiency, according to the report. While the semiconductor materials used in conventional cells are so expensive, the cost per watt of CPV technology seems to hold great promise for reaching the mecca of grid parity.
However, the technology is still quite expensive. During the course of the data collection for this report, CPV Today found that the relatively high cost of CPV technology is due in part to the fact that most CPV installations are small and that larger-scale installations would ‘even out’ the cost of the technology, which stands at around €0.31 to €0.39 per kWh.
The report estimates that “dramatic” costs reductions over the next few years will see this cost reduced to €0.12 to €0.15 per kWh in 2015 in locations featuring a level of solar irradiation of 2500 kWh/m2/year.