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QUT and Sumitomo open solar CPV test plant in Brisbane

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The Queensland University of Technology (QUT) has commenced a two-year trial of concentrating solar photovoltaic technology (CPV). A CPV array, designed and supplied by Japan’s Sumitomo Electric Industries, was inaugurated on Wednesday at a state government research facility in Redland, in Brisbane’s southeast.

sumitomo-solar-cpv

Concentrating solar PV, which uses dual-axis tracking, concentrating lenses and very high-efficiency PV cells, has experienced limited deployment in recent years when compared to conventional solar PV panels.

While cumulative conventional PV capacity passed 300GW globally in 2016, installed CPV remains in just  the hundreds of MW.

While the technology has long appeared promising, as the cost of PV modules fell sharply at the beginning of this decade, a number of CPV technologies were not able to remain competitive with standard PV power plants.

Some developers went bust, such as GreenVolts from the Silicon Valley, while others pivoted into related semiconductor products, such as France’s Soitec.

Japanese CPV developer Sumitomo is continuing to promote the technology and is hoping to foster the deployment of the CPV in Australia.

It claims that as the technology is well suited to high-temperature applications and where there are high levels of direct sunlight, such as in desert regions, it is a good fit for many locations in Australia including rural and regional Queensland.

The trial at QUT will track the total power output of the CPV system and investigate its applications on an economic basis. The inauguration of the pilot plant was attended by 50 representatives from the Queensland government, QUT and Sumitomo.

When announcing the collaboration, QUT Professor Ian Mackinnon said that the plan is to demonstrate the potential of CPV applications alongside redox flow batteries.

“CPV technology combined with redox flow batteries promises to be a crucial part of the future energy mix in Australia and around the world,” said Mackinnon, in a statement.

“In rural and regional Queensland in particular, there is great potential for megawatt-capacity renewable energy projects using CPV systems and redox flow batteries.”

 

   

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  • Phil

    You have to wonder what will happen to Redflow now with their flow battery

    No doubt these Redox batteries will be made in China for a lot less than Redflow can make theirs in the U.S.

    And the smart vertical integration of this project including the vanadium Mine has to be a winner.

    I predict this solar business model will become the de facto regional Australia renewable energy solution within 3 years.

  • Lightfoot

    exciting trial. Can CPV get up to speed and down in cost to be in the race?
    Will all that extra heat burn out the components and give limited lifetime to the advanced PV cells?
    Will this technology be rugged and reliable, or will the extra maintenance costs and moving parts, compared with fixed PV, shadow it’s further deployment?
    I am pleased to see this development, and look forward to further news on it’s deployment.

  • Radbug

    UUgh!! It looks complicated! Desert sand and complicated machinery DO NOT MIX!!