When talking about investors, people often talk about how you need to communicate what your “magic” is. What is it that you can do that makes your company special. And here at Morgan Solar, our magic is in our optics, the Light-guide Solar Optic (LSO). We can make optical concentration systems that just behave differently, and let us design systems that cost less and work better. That’s our magic.
But to people on the outside, it’s not always 100% clear what we’re doing with those optics.
HCPV – High Concentrating Photovoltaic systems. Basically, when talking about concentrating photovoltaic systems, people usually divide the marketing into high and low concentration systems. There doesn’t seem to be a hard number, but concentration factors over 50 or100 suns are usually considered high concentrating, and low concentration systems usually have concentration factors of 2 suns to 20 suns. That’s a rough generalization though, there’s no official standard or anything.
Our first project, the one that we’ve talked about and blogged about the most is the Sun Simba HCPV. This system is based on using the LSO optics to produce between 800 and 1400 suns of concentration. In layman’s terms, 1000 suns concentration means the sunlight striking the surface of the LSO is redirected to shine out of a point on the edge that is 1/1000th the size of the surface. So, we can use 1/1000th as much photovoltaic material (PV), and still generate lots of power. So we’re trading the cost of PV for the cost of a 5 millimetre thick sheet of acrylic.
There’s much to be said about this product, but something I specifically wanted to mention here is that when you’re concentrating light at those levels, you have to track the sun. So these panels are being designed for ground mounted tracker systems that follow the sun very accurately. Even if it wasn’t a requirement, when you’re designing systems for solar farm scale applications, adding tracking dramatically increase your total output, and more importantly, your output in the late afternoons and early evenings when electricity demand is the highest. So the tracker is both a requirement and a benefit. So for interested home users, this is more realistic in a community co-op model rather than installations at individual houses.
We’re installing a demonstration system at the Earth Rangers Centre, and we’ll be exhibiting another system at the Solar Power International 2008 show.
We’re also working on some LCPV systems, a solar window and a solar wall that concentrate in the 4 to 10 suns range. I’ll talk more about those in a future post.