A recent decrease in the cost of photovoltaic (PV) panels resulted in a
large number of cases in which solar energy companies could not stay
afloat. In particular, companies that had developed alternative systems
to standard silicon PVs found it difficult to provide competitive
systems. Alternative systems include concentrated solar power (CSP) and
concentrated PV (CPV) systems.
On the one side, a large increase in the CSP supply volumes is
required to decrease their cost and enable them to compete with
conventional PVs. On the other, the use of CPVs is limited as they can
only be installed in countries that are Sun-rich.
With EU funding of the project 'Transparent Fresnel based concentrated photovoltaic thermal system' (INTENSOL
researchers developed an innovative concept of a low-cost
high-concentration PV (HCPV) solar thermal system. Based on a
combination of the latest developments in PV technology and solar
thermal components, this integrated system is able to produce
electricity and heat. Except for Sun-rich regions, its
high-concentration factor and efficiency make it also suitable for
Contrary to conventional PV systems, the INTENSOL solution uses
cost-effective Fresnel lenses to focus sunlight onto multiple-junction
solar cells. To further increase efficiency, the system is equipped with
an integrated cooling and heat recuperation system, and a two-axis
tracker orienting the system toward the Sun. Furthermore, it is
lightweight and easy to maintain.
The INTENSOL system is a modular arrangement, consisting of the core
HCPV system plus optional solar thermal components — so-called
afterheaters. For example, the pure HCPV cooling system is unable to
deliver hot water at useful temperatures. To this end, a one-axis
concentrator system can be added to raise the temperature up to 150
Celsius degrees. This is particularly useful for heating and drying in
Except for industry, the INTENSOL system will benefit hotel resorts,
campsites, sports centres, shopping malls, hospitals and offices.