Information about Clean, Renewable Energy.

Concentrated Photovoltaic Solar

SunRGI Solar Module

No, we’re not confused merging PV with Concentrated Solar Thermal, we’re talking about another entry in the solar photovoltaic meets the magnifying glass. There has yet to be a successful commercial entity in this space, but SunRGI might just be it. This Hollywood-based, reasonably well-funded outfit claims 2x improvement over traditional PV installations using a number of approaches, chief among them concentrating solar energy 1,600x and directing it to highly efficient PV cells. SunRGI calls this approach eXtreme Concentrated PhotoVoltaics or XCPV.

Visual Representation of SunRGI performance vs. Other Solar PV
Visual Representation of SunRGI vs. Other Solar PV

If you detect a tone of skepticism in our entry, that’s because we’ve seen this story before and nothing much has come of it. Frankly, it’s not that the technology doesn’t work, it’s that the economics to make it work haven’t been solved yet – SunRGI might have cracked the code – but we’re from Missouri on this one, show us.

The crux of the matter is the triple junction PV cells are incredibly expensive, though very efficient (37.5%) vs. the 21% seen in traditional PV cells. To date, these cells are used in specialty applications that are not cost sensitive, like space applications. Coupled with the cost issue is the cooling issue. As any child with a magnifying glass can tell you, concentrated sunlight gets very hot. Coincidentally, heat degrades the performance of the PV cell.

SunRGI claims to have answers to these questions (CoolMove Technology.) When we see an installation producing electricity over some period of time with a known acquisition, installation, and operation cost, we’ll get excited. Until then, we’ll keep our eyes on this segment as it matures.

Link: SunRGI’s Web Site

7 Comments so far

  1. What’s New in Energy? May 9th, 2008 7:00 am

    […] has been publishing cool stuff this week. Here are a few of the things discussed this week… Concentrated Photovoltaic Solar – Imagine melding a magnifying glass with a solar cell. What do you get? eXtreme Concentrated […]

  2. Matt G May 9th, 2008 7:49 am

    What does this device need? One more solar technology! Combine it with a solar hot water heater (basically, pipe water on the back side of it), and you solve the cooling problem and get even more free energy. Why dump all of that nice heat to the environment when you’re heating shower water anyway?

  3. mike May 9th, 2008 7:52 am

    Matt, I like it!

    I thought you were going to say a steam turbine given that the temp at the PV cell is likely to be well over 1,000F… That would be one mighty hot shower.

  4. Matt G May 9th, 2008 9:21 am

    You’ll lose all of the efficiency of the PV if you allow the fluid anywhere near that temperature. Not that you could – then energy entering the water would be about the same as a regular solar water heater. You’d need a very small amount of water to produce high pressure steam.

  5. mike May 9th, 2008 10:12 am

    That comment about steam was intended to be tongue-in-cheek…

  6. Ellie Hughes July 9th, 2010 12:19 pm

    We have installed a solar water heater at home and it is also as good as conventional water heaters.’~.

  7. Kylie Sanchez August 1st, 2010 11:13 am

    Solar water heater is a very good technology because it helps conserve electrical energy for heating”.: