11 October 2012 Practical implementation of a planar micro-optic solar concentrator
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Abstract
CPV optics typically have multiple discrete apertures which each focus sunlight directly onto an associated PV cell. Waveguide based CPV systems instead couple light from multiple small apertures through a shared slab waveguide, avoiding individual optical alignment and electrical connection of multiple PV cells. We previously demonstrated the design and fabrication of a planar micro-optic waveguide concentrator, where incoming sunlight is focused through millimeter pitch lenslets onto mirrored micro-prisms which couple light into a slab waveguide toward common PV cells. This enables an efficient high concentrator system with a compact geometry. However, this design has the typical CPV limitation of low angular acceptance, requiring precise two-axis large-scale mechanical tracking. Here, we present the results of a design study to adapt the planar micro-optic design for use in combination with a one-dimensional mechanical tracker, tilted at latitude, to provide azimuthal alignment and altitude bias. Lateral mechanical micro-tracking can accommodate the residual altitude misalignment. The design shows that this relatively simple system can still provide over 72% annual optical efficiency for a 50x concentrator. Replacing the micro-tracking with passive optical altitude alignment further reduces system complexity, but also reduces efficiency. These waveguide based concentrators have primarily been designed for use with photovoltaic cells, which are index matched onto the waveguide either directly, or through output couplers. For concentrating solar power systems, sunlight is focused onto thermally isolated devices which can not be in direct contact. We will also present alternative output coupler designs, which allow extraction of light from the waveguide to an air or vacuum isolated coupler. The loss associated with these couplers is substantially identical to the reflection losses of one additional mirror.
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Katherine Baker, Jason Karp, Justin Hallas, Joseph Ford, "Practical implementation of a planar micro-optic solar concentrator", Proc. SPIE 8485, Nonimaging Optics: Efficient Design for Illumination and Solar Concentration IX, 848504 (11 October 2012); doi: 10.1117/12.929809; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.929809
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