Fewer Solar Cells, More Solar Power

A thin, cheap solar concentrator to replace expensive solar cells in conventional flat solar panels may be a step closer to becoming a reality.

The news came from HyperSolar. The California outfit yesterday announced it has successfully completed a prototype design of its thin solar concentrator. Hypersolar's main goal is to develop a technology that magnifies sun power to increase the power output of solar cells.

The company is developing what is calls “the world's first thin and flat solar concentrator for standard solar cells”. When applied on top of solar cells, the concentrator can increase solar cell power output.

Manufacturers who choose to add the concentrator could greatly reduce the number of cells in the production of solar panels and reduce cost per watt of solar electricity, HyperSolar said.

“After a year of intense research and development, we are excited to report that we have finally achieved a prototype design that we believe can be refined into a commercial product. While this initial prototype is designed to provide 300% light magnification, we are aiming for at least 400% in our final commercial product”, Tim Young, HyperSolar’s CEO, said in a press statement.

HyperSolar says the main advantage its concentrator is that it is a thin and flat self tracking device that conventional solar manufacturers can use in conventional flat solar panels. Current concentrated photovoltaic solutions require bulky mirrors or lenses and sun tracking mechanisms.

Commercial prospects

The company anticipates the commercial version of the HyperSolar concentrator will be approximately 1 centimeter thick and will be applied as the top sheet on flat solar panels. The initial prototype will be a single micro-concentrator module fabricated at a larger size to facilitate testing and validation of its real-life performance.

Once the photonic and optical characteristics of the micro-concentrator module are validated and refined, the design can be easily miniaturized for use in the mass production of the commercial version HyperSolar concentrator.
When successfully commercialized, a HyperSolar concentrator delivering 400% light magnification can reduce the number of solar cells in a solar panel by 75%.

“Our goal is to be commercially-viable in the next 18-24 months”, Mr Young told Justmeans . “We would market wherever there are willing buyers. Initially we will market to wherever the most ideal strategic partners reside. We will look at any and all opportunities with the initial focus on finding the right strategic partner”.

Image credit: HyperSolar