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Lin W.-C.,Case Western Reserve University | Peshek T.J.,Case Western Reserve University | Bruckman L.S.,Case Western Reserve University | Schuetz M.A.,Replex Plastics | French R.H.,Case Western Reserve University
IEEE Journal of Photovoltaics | Year: 2015

Costs associated with conventional photovoltaic (PV) installations (module manufacturing, mounts, wiring and installation labor, etc.) scale linearly with system area, and prudent design practices for increasing the light harvesting may significantly enhance the power output per unit area and cost per watt. The use of PV modules that have been augmented by the addition of a solar mirror provides an opportunity to improve light harvesting of a PV module and cost-per-watt considerations if the mirror is less expensive than the relative increase in power. In order to harvest greater insolation, an optimized design configuration between a flat-panel module and mirror is necessary for a fixed (nontracked) mirror-augmented photovoltaic (MAPV) system. A series of irradiance and energy harvest calculations were developed to screen various MAPV design configurations. We employed optical ray-tracing simulations to determine irradiance nonuniformities on the fixed MAPV system. The simulated results are compared with outdoor experimental field trial results. Over a three-month period of study, the fixed MAPV system produced 12% more power than an equivalent nonaugmented panel. An adjustable angle mounting system known as 'time machine' was used to estimate yearly power production by adjusting the relative position of the MAPV system to represent varying times of the year. Current - voltage (I-V) curve tracing of test modules was performed during the field trials on augmented and nonaugmented modules for comparison. The experimental time machine result is in agreement with the irradiance simulation, which shows a gullwing curve of annual power output with peak production on the equinoxes and reduced production on the solstices. © 2011-2012 IEEE.

Schuetz M.A.,Replex Plastics | Shell K.A.,Replex Plastics | Brown S.A.,Replex Plastics | Reinbolt G.S.,Replex Plastics | And 2 more authors.
IEEE Journal of Photovoltaics | Year: 2012

We report on the design, construction, and initial performance measurements of a low-concentration photovoltaic system based on compound parabolic concentrators (CPCs). The system is approximately a 7 × concentration system and uses commercially available laser groove buried contact monocrystalline silicon photovoltaic cells. The CPCs are fabricated using a second-surface aluminized acrylic mirror with proven weather durability. The asymmetric CPC optical design was driven by a balance between concentration factor, thermal issues, and optical angle of acceptance and was thoroughly evaluated by optical ray tracing. The design was targeted for a single-axis tracking system, with extruded aluminum heat sinks doubling as structural components. We fabricated a 120-cell (10 × 12) prototype array, and over three months of operation, we estimated an approximate peak total system power efficiency of 7.9%, limited mostly by the CPC optical efficiency (∼55%) and the cell conversion efficiency. We discuss several issues regarding system performance, reliability, and cost. © 2012 IEEE.

Shell K.A.,Replex Plastics | Brown S.A.,Replex Plastics | Schuetz M.A.,Replex Plastics | Davis B.J.,Ohio State University | French R.H.,Case Western Reserve University
AIP Conference Proceedings | Year: 2011

In order to significantly reduce the cost of solar power, Replex Plastics has developed a low-cost, low-concentration PV module incorporating acrylic mirror reflectors. The reflectors are compound parabolic concentrators designed for use with low-accuracy single axis trackers. The prototypes use crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells and achieved 7.1x concentration over a receiver without reflectors. The 1x1.6m module used 1/10th the silicon of a standard module and produced a max power of 140 W. © 2011 American Institute of Physics.

Shell K.A.,Replex Plastics | Browna S.A.,Replex Plastics | Schuetz M.A.,Replex Plastics | Davis R.J.,Ohio State University | French R.H.,Case Western Reserve University
Proceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering | Year: 2011

Replex Plastics aims to develop a low-cost, low-concentration photovoltaic module using a metallized acrylic reflector designed for use with an inclined single-axis tracker. An asymmetric compound parabolic concentrator is developed and analyzed optimizing the many factors impacting the design, such as tracking strategy, manufacturing process, and cell size. Ray tracing is used to improve the design as well as predict the performance. Results of the simulation closely match the tested performance of the prototype. The final design is an asymmetric compound parabolic concentrator mounted to an encapsulated silicon cell receiver with a system optical efficiency of 60%. The prototype concentrator achieves ∼7x increase in power output over an encapsulated receiver with no reflector. © 2011 SPIE.

Bruckman L.S.,Case Western Reserve University | Murray M.P.,Case Western Reserve University | Richardson S.,Case Western Reserve University | Brown S.A.,Replex Plastics | And 2 more authors.
2012 IEEE Energytech, Energytech 2012 | Year: 2012

In developing photovoltaic (PV) technology for widespread adoption, it is crucial to provide PV power with comparable prices to traditional technologies. A method to lower the cost of energy delivered by a PV system is to increase power output. While PV panel costs account for as much as 50% of system costs [1] balance of system (BOS) is among the other major costs associated with PV technologies. Because mounting, wiring, and installation tend to scale with system area, higher efficiency devices will lower these BOS costs. Under this concept, our research group seeks to provide opportunities for lower cost power using flat-panel PV modules augmented through the addition of low cost solar mirrors. Since mirror augmentation costs ∼10% of module cost, and increased irradiance scales almost linearly with power production, in order to harvest more incident solar irradiance, an optimized configuration design between flat-panel module and mirror are necessary in this fixed (non-tracked) mirror-augmented photovoltaic (MAPV) system. As with many renewable energy technologies, PV energy generation requires durability of systems, components, and materials for 25 years in order to be economically viable. In order to ensure investors and early adopters that MAPV can fulfill expected service lifetimes of 25+ years durability studies have been performed showing the effects of artificial aging in terms of angle distribution of reflected light and reflectance loss. © 2012 IEEE.

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