Solergy, a solar company that develops a concentrated photovoltaic solar energysystem, last week introduced BICPV (Building Integrated ConcentratedPhotovoltaic), the company’s product for building rooftops, greenhousesand agriculture and which is based on the company’s CogenerationConcentrated Photovoltaic system (Cogen CPV). The launch took placeduring the recent SOLAREXPO, Italy’s largest solar conference.
Concentrated phovoltaic, or CPV, uses arrays of lenses to focus sunlight onto small solar cells and accounts for a small portion of the solarpower market (0.01 per cent). However, according to MIT’s Technology review, CPV is about to get a boost in the U.S. as the U.S Department of Energy will give a conditional loan guarantee of $90.6 million to a 30 MWfacility near Alamosa, Colorado, the largest CPV plant ever built.
Solergy,meanwhile, is advancing CPV in Italy. Just before the BICPV launch,Solergy had entered into an agreement with Azienda Agricola Ciccolella,an olive oil and cut roses producer from Puglia, a region of northernItaly. As part of the deal Solergy will integrate a 105kW Cogen BICPVsystem in Ciccolella’s greenhouses used to cultivate roses. Together the two companies will collaborate to develop the Cogen solar market forgreenhouses and orchards throughout the Puglia region, representinghundreds of megawatts.
So what exactly makes this solar company’s offering different? Solergy’s product was the first of its kind. Its “tilt-and roll” tracker designcan be installed directly on rooftop beams, greenhouses or to beground-mounted. The company says it’s the “world’s only all glassconcentrating lens, and high precision sun tracking.”
“Our system has a combined electric and thermal conversion efficiency of up to 75%”, Solergy’s CEO Yoav Banin told Energy Refuge. “In termsof electric efficiency alone, we recently measured a record efficiencyof 32.9%. A previous generation of the system was validated by NREL(National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Colorado) to achieve anelectric conversion efficiency of 29%”, he added.
Solergy’s BICPV solution is can transform a passive structuralelement into an integrated energy appliance that generates electricityand heat. It is compatible with greenhouses and skylights, and features a rapid, non-destructive installation and integration.
“One of Solergy’s unique strengths is its versatility of application. Because Cogen CPV generates both electricity and heat, it opens up the ability to deliver the most energy for industrial and commercialbuildings, hotels, airports, greenhouses, agriculture, wineries, utility scale solar fields, etc. The heat can be applied in many situationincluding air conditioners, industrial process heat, sanitary water, and water desalination”, explained Mr. Banin.
The company recently signed a contract with the Italian CivilAviation Authority (ENAC) to build a combined 250 kW Cogen CPV system at the Pantelleria Airport in Sicily. Installation of the system isscheduled for completion by the end of the year. Based on the data fromthe installation, ENAC will create guidelines for use of renewable energyat airports.
“We are continuing to execute our business strategy through these key customer wins,” said Mr. Banin said. “The unique strengths andversatility of Cogen CPV enable us to enter new markets and providesolutions in many situations where traditional panels are simplyinadequate.”
Considering how much CPV boosts efficiency, can we expect solar toachieve grid parity soon? “This depends on the location and application. In some parts of Italy, I believe solar can already compete withfossil fuels. More broadly speaking I estimate that we are two to fouryears away from grid parity in most major markets”, Mr. Banin predicted.