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Concentrix plant maintains 23% efficiency

Concentrated photovoltaics site delivers a consistent output that is almost double the efficiency of conventional PV plants.

Germany-based concentrated photovoltaics (CPV) pioneer Concentrix Solar says that its plant in southern Spain is now consistently delivering the record power efficiency first achieved a year ago (see related story).

The company s 5.4 kW demonstration system, located near sunny Seville, reached 23 per cent alternating-current efficiency. Now, its much larger power plant, operated in collaboration with Abengoa Solar, is repeating that achievement on a regular basis "“ when skies are clear.

The 2 MW facility in Casquemada, also near Seville, features both conventional silicon modules and CPV systems, and is one of the only plants to combine the two technologies.

However, Concentrix systems provide only 5 per cent of the total power, or 100 kW, at the facility.

The Freiburg-based firm says that the impressive efficiency figure will increase significantly once its new generation of "Flatcon" modules come into use.

First-generation modules are still being used at Casquemada, each of which provides 48 W. "The new CX-75 modules have a power of 75 W and achieve an average efficiency of 27.2 per cent," claims Concentrix.

Another pioneering CPV company, US-based SolFocus, recently became the first to meet the IEC 62108 standard, with its SF-1000P modules.

Such standards approval is seen as a crucial part of CPV industry maturation, as the technology vies to gain a foothold in an increasingly competitive market.

"We have already proved that CPV can yield nearly twice the efficiency of traditional PV systems, but meeting the IEC s rigorous CPV requirements proves that SolFocus systems can perform consistently across a variety of climates and environments," said Mark Crowley, SolFocus' CEO.

"This validation sends a message to developers, investors and customers that CPV is on track to global commercialization."

Both SolFocus and Concentrix have also deployed multiple systems at the ISFOC test bed in central Spain, which is expected to begin its second phase of development in 2010.

This grid-connected facility is seen as a critical element of the commercialization of CPV technology.

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