The market for concentrated photovoltaics (CPV) is entering a phase of “explosive growth”, according to market research firm IHS.

In a newly released report: ‘Concentrated PV (CPV) Report – 2013’, IHS predicts global CPV installations are to “boom” by 750% between 2013 and 2020.

Karl Melkonyan, photovoltaic analyst at IHS, said the CPV market in 2013 is “is on the verge of a breakthrough in growth”.

CPV installations are forecast to total 1.362GW by 2020, with 160MW installed this year.

According to IHS, CPV panels’ concentration of solar irradiation using mirrors and lenses increases yield compared to regular photovoltaic plants, however the additional equipment costs have so far held back the growth of CPV.

IHS estimates recent advancements in technology, reducing costs, will open the door for CPV to significantly increase installations.

CPV installation costs have decreased 25.8% this year, from US$3.54 per watt in 2012, to US$2.62 per watt this year, IHS said.

CPV prices per watt are predicted to continue to decrease by on average 15% annually between 2012 and 2017 – to US$1.59 by the end of 2017.

Using the standard cost-per-watt metric, IHS said over the long term, conventional PV looks significantly cheaper than CPV due to the high costs of a CPV panel.

But using a levelised cost of energy (LCOE) metric, which measures the cost of the electricity generated over a system’s lifetime, IHS said CPV would be able to compete with conventional PV in large ground-mount systems in hot dry locations with over 6kWh of direct irradiation per square metre.

Melkonyan said: “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.”

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