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Journal of Energy in Southern Africa

On-line version ISSN 2413-3051
Print version ISSN 1021-447X


SCHULTZ, Ross Dane; VAN DYK, Ernest E  and  VORSTER, Frederik J. The optical design and performance of a concentrator photovoltaic module. J. energy South. Afr. [online]. 2015, vol.26, n.2, pp.53-63. ISSN 2413-3051.

Concentration photovoltaic (CPV) modules promise a more efficient, higher power output than traditional photovoltaic modules. This is achieved by concentrating sunlight onto a small 1 cm2 concentrator triple-junction (CTJ) InGaP/InGaAs/Ge cell by using high quality precision optics. In order to achieve high energy performance and reliability, well thought-out design decisions must be made in the development of a CPV module. This paper investigates the design of two CPV modules (Module I and II), which are based on the Sandia III Baseline Fresnel module. The investigation concentrated on the effect of the optimization of the optical design on the electrical performance characteristics of CTJ cells with good thermal dissipation. The best performance achieved by Module I was at 336 times operational concentration (Xo), which produced a Pmax of 10.29 W per cell, with cell and module efficiencies of 39% and 24%, respectively. In the development of the second module (Module II) pre-deployment criteria such as the CTJ cell and system components characteristics was used to eliminate faulty components from the system what was observed in Module I. Cell units that were optimized in Module II showed no form of degradation in their Current-Voltage (I-V) characteristics. The cell unit operating under optical misalignment showed a progressive degradation with long term operation in the field.

Keywords : concentrator photovoltaics; concentrated triple junction cells; efficiency; degradation.

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