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CPV: Devil is in the detail

Eric Wesoff of greentech media posted a nice 3 part review of concentrating photovoltaics (CPV) suggesting that the technology might be "stuck in the middle" between "the rapidly commodifying silicon solar market and the well-financed high-output concentrated solar thermal market."
HCPV is defiantly in the middle, but I would not discount HCPV just yet.  LCPV on the other hand will find it tough to penetrate the market as PV prices fall, even if they can achieve a significant $/KWhr advantage.
For HCPV there is room for high-DNI applications between large PV and small CST. Project developers will like the smaller foot print if $/KWhr can be hit and reliability proven (but that acceptance will take time).  TJ-cells are only now reaching the minimum efficiencies required to make HCPV work.
So is CPV over shadowed by CST?  Perhaps only in the battle of press releases.  Apart from the relatively mature trough-type CST technology, products in both CPV and CST are only just coming to market. There is justified excitement about FPL and PG&E contracts, but the energy will only be sold if they hit $/MWhr targets.
We won't know how successful the most advanced new CPV and CST companies will be in hitting cost targets for perhaps 12 months.
Part of the issue for CPV is that many companies launched with what looked like a great concept.  But in CPV the devil is in the detail, e.g. optical and mechanical losses, thermal issues, required tracking precision, low cost manufacturability, and keeping the optics clean in operation.  The "detail devil" has sent several companies back to the drawing board. Others look on track to produce a great product - now they need to win over the developers.

Bottom Line: In assessing a CPV technology you need to consider both the target applications and the completeness of their design concept for that application - does the team have the expertise to make it work? 

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