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III-V multi-junction solar cells and concentrating photovoltaic (CPV) systems

: Philipps, S.P.; Bett, A.W.


Advanced Optical Technologies 3 (2014), No.5-6, pp.469-478
ISSN: 2192-8584
ISSN: 2192-8576
Journal Article
Fraunhofer ISE ()
Materialien - Solarzellen und Technologie; III-V und Konzentrator-Photovoltaik; III-V Epitaxie und Solarzellen; Hochkonzentrierende Systeme (HCPV); Photovoltaics (CPV); efficiency; multi-junction solar cells

It has been proven that the only realistic path to practical ultra-high efficiency solar cells is the monolithic multi-junction approach, i.e., to stack pn-junctions made of different semiconductor materials on top of each other. Each sub pn-junction, i.e., sub solar cell, converts a specific part of the sun’s spectrum. In this way, the energy of the sunlight photons is converted with low thermalization losses. However, large-area multi-junction solar cells are still far too expensive if applied in standard PV modules. A viable solution to solve the cost issue is to use tiny solar cells in combination with optical concentrating technology, in particular, high concentrating photovoltaics (HCPV), in which the light is concentrated over the solar cells more than 500 times. The combination of ultra-high efficient solar cells and optical concentration lead to low cost on system level and eventually to low levelized cost of electricity, today, well below 8 €cent/kWh and, in the near future, below 5 €cent/kWh. A wide variety of approaches exists for III-V multi-junction solar cells and HCPV systems. This article is intended to provide an overview about the different routes being followed.