WEDNESDAY 16 FEBRUARY, 2011 |
IMAX Sized Solar Generator
Makers of a new solar generator the size of an IMAX screen say it will revolutionise concentrated photovoltaic solar power in the USA.
The Amonix 7700 Concentrated Photovoltaic (CPV) Solar Power Generator uses acrylic Fresnel lenses to focus sunlight up to 500 times its normal intensity onto 7,560 highly efficient
solar cells spread out on a movie screen-sized solar panel.
The Amonix 7700 is the product of a partnership between solar company Amonix
and the US
National Renewable Energy Laboratory
(NREL), which says the 7700 will deliver
"more 'energy per acre' than anything yet available in the solar energy
world." The NREL hope the new CPV system will become part of the Obama Administration’s ambitious goal of lowering the installed cost of solar energy to below $1 per watt.
Its makers say the solar cells used in the 7700 are so efficient that they can generate electricity at the same cost as natural gas, according to the California Market Price Referent, which establishes a proxy price for electricity generated by a new state-of-the-art natural gas plant.
According to the NREL, a six-inch square silicon PV wafer in a standard solar panel
produces around 2.5 watts of electricity. In contrast, the multi-junction PV wafers used in the Amonix 7700, when paired with the Fresnel lens, which intensifies solar energy, produce more than 1,500 watts each. The massive Amonix solar panel runs at 31 percent efficiency in the field, the highest ever for an operating CPV system.
Plans are underway for the Amonix 7700 to be deployed in the sunny, desert regions of America’s west. The system’s super-efficiency makes it smaller than current CPV solar plants, which can cover vast areas. Twenty 7700 CPV systems can deliver up to one megawatt of electricity – enough to power 750 homes – using half the space currently need to generate the same amount of power.
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