Analysis of Transmitted Optical Spectrum Enabling Accelerated Testing of Multijunction Concentrating Photovoltaic Designs

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Concentrating photovoltaic (CPV) technology has recently gained interest based on its scalability and expected low levelized cost of electricity. The reliability of encapsulation materials used in CPV systems, however, is not well established. For example, the present qualification test for CPV modules includes only real-time ultraviolet (UV) exposure, i.e., methods for accelerated UV testing have not yet been developed. To better define the stress inherent to CPV systems, the UV and infrared spectra transmitted through representative optical systems were evaluated. Measurements of optical components are used to assess expected optical performance and quantify damaging optical exposure. Optical properties (transmittance, refractive index, reflectance, and absorptance) of candidate materials (including PMMA, soda-lime glass, borosilicate glass, and quartz refractors), components (including Ag- and Al-enabled reflectors), and encapsulants (including EVA, ionomer, PDMS, PPMS, polyolefin, and PVB) were identified. The activation spectrum was calculated for the representative optical systems using an assumed action spectrum to compare the expected damaging dose of UV radiation delivered to the cell encapsulation. The dose and flux analysis identifies the significance of IR relative to UV exposure for CPV systems. Because UV light is typically more highly attenuated, the UV dose within the encapsulation may not greatly exceed the unconcentrated global solar condition, but the thermal load scales nearly directly with the geometric concentration. Relative to a previous analysis for crystalline silicon cell technology, the analysis here is performed for III-V multijunction technology. Novel aspects here also include additional materials (such as TPU encapsulation) and additional components (transmission through silicone on glass lenses, antireflective coatings, and the front glass used with reflective systems, as well as reflection off of the cell).

Original languageAmerican English
Article number013003
Number of pages17
JournalOptical Engineering
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2011

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5200-49119

Other Report Number

  • Article No. 013003


  • accelerated testing
  • durability
  • polymeric materials
  • reflective and refractive materials
  • reliability


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