Soitec, a specialist in semiconductor materials for the electronic and energy industries, announced that it has completed the construction and grid connection of Italy’s largest concentrator photovoltaic (CPV) solar power plant. The announcement was made in the context of the Intersolar Europe Trade Show in Munich, which took place this week (June 11-15). The 1.17 megawatt-peak (MWp) solar farm, located in Belpasso in Sicily, will power 300 homes and is expected to prevent the emission of more than 125 tons (113 tonnes) of carbon dioxide per year.
CPV is a more efficient way of converting sunlight to electricity, as production is maximized with the help of multi-junction solar cells and dual-axis tracking systems that maintain an optimal angle to the sun. It is particularly good for high solar resource regions such as Italy and Spain (cloudy and overcast conditions are not conducive to CPV), and generates more power than conventional silicon PV panels.
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The Belpasso plant is equipped with 74 Soitec CPV trackers and each one of them use 168 Concentrix CPV modules, besides two 500 kW central inverters that ensure consistent power distribution to the grid.
CPV systems are cheaper than conventional flat panel systems because concentration means that a smaller area of solar cells is required. In order to operate efficiently, the solar cell needs to be kept cool with heat sinks as efficiency goes down when the temperature goes up.
The plant will supply electricity to Enel, Italy’s largest power company. “This project has allowed us to show that CPV’s leading efficiency and ability to provide a steady, long-term energy supply without consuming excessive amounts of land and water make it exactly the right technology for Italy,” said Gaetan Borgers, executive vice president of Soitec’ Solar Energy division.