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Low Profile CPV Panel with Sun Tracking for Rooftop Installation

Panasonic Boston Laboratory
Low Profile CPV Panel with Sun Tracking for Rooftop Installation
Program: 
ARPA-E Award: 
$1,626,000
Location: 
Cupertino, CA
Project Term: 
01/15/2016 to 04/14/2019
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Technical Categories: 
Critical Need: 
The use of flat-panel solar photovoltaics (FPV) is growing dramatically as costs decrease. By contrast, more efficient concentrated PV systems (CPV), which focus direct sunlight onto a single point, have not been widely adopted because of their high cost, large size, and expensive tracking systems. A new approach, micro-scale concentrated photovoltaic systems (micro-CPV), may deliver the cost and size benefits of conventional FPV systems, but with an estimated 50% performance improvement. Micro-CPV modules would use cost-effective trackers and generate more electrical power in a given area. This allows installation on space-constrained residential rooftops and decreased costs for commercial and utility applications. Finally, the MOSAIC systems would have the ability to capture both direct and diffuse sunlight, which could make CPV economical in more geographical regions. These innovations could spur the expanded use of PV to generate clean, renewable energy.
Project Innovation + Advantages: 
Panasonic Boston Laboratory will develop a micro-CPV system that features a micro-tracking subsystem. This micro-tracking subsystem will eliminate the need for bulky trackers, allowing fixed mounting of the panel. The micro-tracking allows individual lenses containing PV cells to move within the panel. As the sun moves throughout the day, the lenses align themselves to the best position to receive sunlight, realizing the efficiency advantages of CPV without the cumbersome tilting of the entire panel. The Panasonic Boston Laboratory team will examine a number of methods to allow the individual lenses to track the sunlight. Each panel will be comparable in thickness and cost to a traditional FPV panel.
Potential Impact: 
If successful, innovations from Panasonic Boston Laboratory's project may lower the cost of solar systems by allowing economical, high-volume manufacturing of micro-CPV arrays. Improved systems could encourage greater adoption of solar power in all three primary markets - residential, commercial, and utility.
Security: 
Expanded use of clean, renewable solar power could reduce dependence on foreign sources of energy.
Environment: 
Solar power offers clean power generation with zero emissions. Technologies developed under MOSAIC may also enable solar installations with smaller physical footprints, reducing the environmental impacts of large solar arrays.
Economy: 
Technologies developed under MOSAIC could offer a cost-effective option for clean, locally produced power across all market sectors.
Contacts
ARPA-E Program Director: 
Dr. Michael Haney
Project Contact: 
Dr. Xinbing Liu
Release Date: 
8/24/2015