Photovoltaic solar module maker Semprius Inc. won a competitive $2.9 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E).
The funding will be used to develop technologies that lower the cost of solar energy while increasing system efficiencies and energy yields.
Semprius, in partnership with the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, The George Washington University and Veeco, received its competitive award from ARPA-E’s Micro-scale Optimized Solar-cell Arrays with Integrated Concentration (MOSAIC) program, which will fund the development of a new class of cost-effective, high-performance photovoltaic (PV) solar modules based upon the use of very small lenses and micro-solar cells.
Critical to driving down the cost of solar energy is increasing module conversion efficiency as well as overall system energy harvest. This project addresses both imperatives, while also emphasizing a module design that will keep system costs low. First, building off of Semprius’ technology breakthrough last year, the team will demonstrate the highest efficiency solar cells ever produced, with efficiencies projected to exceed 50 percent. Second, Semprius will redesign its standard concentrated PV (CPV) module to incorporate both ultra-high-efficiency CPV cells and medium-efficiency, low-cost, un-concentrated silicon cells.
The CPV cells will capture the direct sunlight that is mostly available on sunny days while the silicon cells will capture the scattered light that is mostly available on cloudy days.