Use of Fuzzy Optics for Concentrating Photovoltaic applications


Solar energy has become a key component of our nation’s renewable energy plan. As such greater efficiencies are sought, through such solutions as Concentrated Photovoltaic (CPV) technologies. CPV is the highly efficient method of concentrating solar light onto a specific photovoltaic (PV) cell area. The major appeal CPV has been its ability to achieve extremely high conversion efficiencies (~41%), thus attacking the industry goal of reducing the cost per watt of generating solar power. Traditional CPV solutions are mechanical and leave concerns surrounding installation costs, maintenance costs, mechanical or technical failure and accuracy of a tracking system (inability to capture diffuse light). All of these concerns make CPV a risky investment. Eliminating the tracking system all together while still maintaining high efficiency is an optimal choice. A unique approach to the CPV solution invented by Dr. Etyemezian at DRI circumvents the concerns over mechanical CPV solutions by developing a single solar collection device that captures the most efficient light. This includes design for electronic controls that allow for clusters of MJC cells within an array to operate at different efficiencies, temperatures, and illuminations without significant compromise of overall solar-electric conversion efficiency. It is estimated the fuzzy optics CPV cell array can achieve a minimum15% increase in output compared to fixed flat plate Si-solar cells.

Benefits & Advantages

  • Reduced BOS costs as the only moving component is spinning the enclosed MJC cell platform, which does not require solar tracking or alignment

  • Ability to operate MJC cells at different power output levels

  • Absence of moving parts enables prospect of co-generation, where excess heat from MJC cells can be used for secondary purposes

  • Elimination of shadowing effect allows for units to be efficiently stacked

Technology Overview

This approach uses a multi-junction solar (MJC) cell located on a spinning disc, a “fuzzy” optical lens concentrating all light (including diffuse light) in a specific direction. This concentrated light is directed onto the spinning disc where MJCs cycle through areas of high and low concentrated sunlight. This use of “fuzzy optics” eliminates the need for trackers, thereby eliminating maintenance costs incurred during technological and mechanical problems with the trackers. This technology also eliminates problems associated with the shadowing effect and the potential loss in electricity generation when tracking systems are down.

Intellectual Property

DRI ID#: DRI10-007
Use of Fuzzy Optics for Concentrating Photovoltaic Applications
Patent Pending

Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Ryan Heck
University of Nevada, Reno and Desert Research Institute
Vicken Etyemezian
George Nikolich