Soitec, manufacturing of semiconductor materials for the electronics and energy industries, announced its newest concentrated photovoltaic (CPV) solar module featuring a record power-generating efficiency of 31.8%. Soitec says its new module, which is already in industrial volume production, has the highest efficiency of any commercial product available for multi-megawatt installations.
Using an anti-reflective coating, Soitec’s CX-M500 solar module increases nominal peak power output over previous generations from 2,335 W to 2,450 W. The new module has been certified according to the International Electrotechnical Commission’s (IEC) and Underwriters Laboratories’ (UL) standards (IEC 62108, IEC 62688, UL 62108 and UL SU 8703), confirming that it meets product safety, performance and reliability requirements in both the United States and European markets.
“With this new product, Soitec is continuing to raise the bar for solar-power efficiency and, looking ahead, the potential for further improvement is significant,” says Gaetan Borgers, executive vice president of Soitec’s Solar Energy Division.“Based on our current work in solar-cell development, we are well positioned to achieve even higher module efficiencies in the near future. With our newest commercial modules and their higher efficiencies, we are delivering on our cost-competitiveness roadmap.”
Additionally Soitec’s new module complies with the California Solar Initiative, so power-plant installations using it can qualify for performance-based incentives from the California Energy Commission (CEC). The module also bears the CE mark, indicating its compliance with the relevant European Union directives, regulations and standards.
Using Soitec’s proven Concentrix technology, each Soitec CPV module comprises a Fresnel lens plate and a bottom plate on which high-performance solar cells are mounted. The Fresnel lenses focus sunlight concentrated by a factor of 500 on the solar cells beneath. The cells are precisely mounted on the bottom plate, enabling the focused sunbeam to align perfectly with the tiny solar cells. In constructing its modules, Soitec uses elements from the circuit board and dual pane window industries, which are both cost effective and have been proven reliable over many years.
The modules are used in assembling Soitec CPV systems. Soitec’s tracker-based systems are designed to build high-capacity solar-power plants with low construction and maintenance costs. Soitec’s CPV systems can significantly improve the Levelized Cost of Electricity (LCoE) for mid-sized to very large solar-power plants.
With installations in 18 countries around the world, Soitec’s CPV technology has proven its competitiveness to generate solar power, largely due to its higher production yields throughout the sunlight hours. In addition, CPV technology’s abilities to operate without cooling water, withstand hot ambient temperatures and have minimal environmental impact make it perfectly suited for use in environmentally sensitive desert areas. Soitec is well positioned to expand quickly in the world’s sunniest regions, which also are the fastest growing market segments for the solar industry.
Soitec recently announced the signature of a performance-warranty insurance contract with Munich Re, which will ease financing of solar projects using the company’s CPV modules.