Grant will support feasibility study of internal tracking mechanisms for innovative high efficiency distributed rooftop solar concentrator
ALAMEDA, CA. March 20, 2013 Alameda-based solar startup Sun Synchrony has been awarded a $95,000 grant by the California Energy Commission, through the Energy Innovations Small Grant (EISG) Program, to conduct a study of key components of the company's ArcSol PanelTM, a fixed-mount high-concentrating photovoltaic (HCPV) solar panel for rooftops which uses an internal array of motorized palm-sized concentrating reflectors to individually track the sun.
The one-year funded project, "Tracking Optimization of Self-Orienting HCPV Elements", will demonstrate the feasibility of the 2-axis motorized mount used within the ArcSol Panel – the Micro-MountTM -- to enable the reflectors to follow the sun.
Although other critical functions of the ArcSol Panel have already been validated, such as the efficient light capture and high-ratio concentration of its reflectors, the Micro-Mount presents a number of challenges in the miniaturization of robust, high-accuracy motion control using low-cost components. The EISG grant-funded program will systematically address these challenges through the testing and evaluation of a set of prototypes embodying different design variants.
Sun Synchrony's ArcSol Panel is designed to serve as a drop-in replacement for a flat-plate rooftop panel and is projected to provide a conversion efficiency of approximately 30%– twice that of typical flat-plate panels. The key to this breakthrough efficiency is the use of specialized multi-junction solar cells which have recently reached conversion efficiencies of 44%. Originally developed for use in space, these cells have been optimized for terrestrial applications and are used in solar farms.
Generating more power in a smaller area footprint can make solar a more viable option for segments of California's electricity market which could not have met their energy needs with conventional solar panels. This includes most multi-story and commercial buildings, which are currently able to offset only a fraction of their electricity usage with solar.
"The traditional ground-based high concentration PV used in solar farms can generate more power than flat plate silicon panels, but also can require up to five times the materials, weight and space to harness the same electricity," says Sun Synchrony CEO James Hoffman. "Our design can generate twice as much power as the typical flat-plate rooftop PV panel by bringing the super-efficient multijunction solar cells into the distributed generation space of commercial and residential rooftops."
While some solar companies have already commercialized rack-mounted HCPV solar panels capable of being used on sturdy flat rooftops and parking lot carports, none has yet commercialized an HCPV panel in the form-factor of a flat-plate PV panel. Sun Synchrony hopes to provide the first HCPV product suitable for a broad array of distributed rooftop applications.
About Sun Synchrony
Sun Synchrony is developing breakthrough solar products to generate electricity using concentrator solar photovoltaics. The high sunlight-to-electricity conversion efficiency afforded by Sun Synchrony's HCPV technology can open up new markets to solar power applications, particularly where space constraints exclude the possibility of using conventional silicon panels due to their limited efficiency.