At the Solar Power 2006 Conference and Expo in San Jose, Sharp Electronics showed a concentrating photovoltaic (CPV) solar panel. This system, which may come to market as early as the next year or two, would be used for solar power plants--large installations in a field that would pass power onto the grid.
The panel consists of a series of tiny solar cells measuring about a quarter of an inch (7 x 7 mm) per side, siting beneath Fresnel lenses which concentrates sunlight. The solar cells in these panels is made out of III-V compounds (molecules made from elements in the III and V columns of the Periodic Table of Elements). Producing chips from these materials, such as gallium arsenide, is expensive. Thus, the solar cell needs to be small. The lens, by contrast, is much less expensive and measures a few inches across. The panel itself measures about 12.5 feet by 16 feet and contains 270 lenses. A panel with 270 lenses can produce 2.9 kilowatts and tracks the sun for maximum efficiency.
Jason Bobruk, of Sharp Electronics presented a paper, "Concentrating Photovoltaics on the Path to Grid Parity," at the conference.
Source: CNET News.com