New system developed to generate solar power concentrated 700 times

A new concentrated solar energy photovoltaic generation system, which can produce the same amount of electricity in an area about half the size of a conventional solar power plant, has been developed in Japan.

The system comprises a large number of reflecting mirrors built in the plant site, which automatically track the sun and concentrate the sunlight onto solar cells installed on a tower to produce electricity. JFE Engineering Corporation, developer of this new system, aims to commercialize the system by fiscal 2013.

The system uses heliostats, reflector control devices that track the sun, to concentrate sunlight about 150 times. Lenses attached to solar cells further concentrate the sunlight about 5 times. Thus, the system generates power using light 700 times as intense as normal sunlight.

While the solar cell module used in the system heats up to around 1,000 degrees Celsius, JFE Engineering Corporation has succeeded in achieving the stable cooling of the system by applying the blast furnace cooling technology that the company developed through its experience in steel manufacturing. The system produces about 80 deg-C water from the cooling process, which can possibly be used subsequently for district heat and cooling or agricultural purposes.

The company has already constructed a demonstration facility consisting of 30 heliostats and one photovoltaic module, and confirmed the system’s capacity for stable operation.