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Concentrix move heralds CPV solar expansion

German maker of concentrator systems featuring III-V components believes that many new cell companies are about to enter the market.

Concentrix Solar, one of the leading companies involved in solar concentrator systems, is set to move to a new facility in Freiburg, Germany, next week as it ramps up from a 1 MW pilot plant to a 25 MW production line.

The new facility features 4000 m2 of production and service space, and will support as much as 50 MW fabrication in the future "“ equivalent to approximately 50,000 4-inch wafers at current cell efficiency levels.

The move within Germany s self-proclaimed "eco city" signals the beginnings of a shift for concentrator photovoltaics (CPV) technology from the laboratory and prototyping stage towards true volume production.

"It means that we can at last meet the strong demand for our systems," said Concentrix CEO Hansjörg Lerchenmüller of the expansion.

So far, Concentrix has deployed its "Flatcon" CPV modules, which are based on Fresnel lens optics, in a record-breaking system in Seville (see related story).

A company spokesman told compoundsemiconductor.net that aside from the Seville project, Concentrix has recently installed 100 kW of CPV at a 2 MW total power project led by Abengoa Solar at Casaquemada, also in Spain.

On top of that, the German firm has finished installing its second 100 kW at the ISFOC testbed in Castilla La Mancha. "Currently we are waiting for the grid connection to feed in," said Concentrix.

Starting next month, it will begin to install the final 300 kW of its scheduled allocation at the ISFOC site.

CPV, which relies on the very high efficiencies of solar cells based on III-V semiconductors, is expected to play a key energy-providing role in what Lerchenmüller describes as "the sunbelt" "“ places like the Mediterranean, where skies tend to be clear, sunny and ideal for CPV.

"We are certainly well prepared for the future and can now additionally take on large power plant projects in the 1-10 MW range," said the CEO.

Aside from the existing Spanish installations, Concentrix says that it is receiving many requests from companies in Asia and the US.

The firm already has long-term cell supply deals in place with the likes of Emcore and Spectrolab in the US, and Azur Space in Germany, but it is now expecting to see some additional competition in III-V cell manufacturing.

"We see that many new players are about to enter the market," said Concentrix.

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