Handbook on Concentrator Photovoltaic Technology
This volume is the ﬁrst handbook fully focused on Concentrator Photovoltaic Technology. Essentially, this handbook gathers, in one place, a comprehensive review of all scientiﬁc background around Concentrator Photovoltaics (CPV) as well as detailed descriptions of the technology and engineering developed to design, build and manufacture CPV systems and plants. In particular, this book essentially focuses on the current workhorse of the CPV industry: point focus designs based on refractive optics and III-V multijunction solar cells working at concentration levels from some hundreds to over a thousand suns.
In this Preface, we discuss why we believe this handbook is a timely and pertinent endeavor by reviewing the general situation of PV, the key advantages that CPV offers and the history of CPV to conclude with its present status and future prospects.
A Vision of Photovoltaics within the World’s Energy Perspective
The Earth receives annually around 1.5 109 TWh of solar energy. This overwhelming ﬁgure constitutes by far the most abundant energy resource available for mankind heretofore. If adequately harnessed, only a miniscule fraction of this energy would sufﬁce to supply the world’stotal primaryenergydemand,whichin2013was about1.6105 TWh (i.e. the solar resource on earth is about 10 000 times the energy needs of mankind). The primary energy is processed by the energetic system into different types of readily usable energy forms, among which electricity is considered the key technology for the next decades. Accordingly, the direct generation of electricity from solar radiation (i.e., the production of the preferred consumable form of energy from the richest resource) is a topic of the highest relevance and is the essence of photovoltaics (PV). From the discovery of the photovoltaic effect in 1839 –by French physicist Alexandre-Edmond Becquerel – to the ﬁrstsuccessfulapplicationof photovoltaic panels to power the Vanguard I satellite launched in 1958, more than a century went by. Since those pioneering works, many steps forward have been made and the PV industry has evolved from the modest watt-ranged applications of the early days to the giant GW-ranged systems planned today. As a matter of fact, the evolution of photovoltaics over the ﬁrst decades of the 21st century has been remarkable among all energy technologies. As Figure 1 shows, PV installations have been growing tremendously and by the end of 2015, it is expected to have left behind the non-negligible mark of 200 GWp global cumulative installed capacity.
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