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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractNotwithstanding several years of robust growth, solar energy still only accounts for<1% of total electrical generation in the US. Before solar energy can substantially replace fossil fuels subsidy-free at utility scale, further cost reductions and efficiency improvements are needed in complete generating systems. Flat panel silicon PV modules are by far the most dominant solar technology today, but have little room for improvement in efficiency and are limited by balance of system costs. Concentrated PV (CPV) is an alternate approach with long-term potential for much higher efficiency in sunny climates. In CPV modules, large area optics collect and concentrate direct sunlight onto small multi-junction cells with>40% conversion efficiency. Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) uses mirrors to concentrate sunlight onto thermally absorbing receivers, which generate electricity with convention thermal cycles. In this dissertation, four new optical approaches to CPV and CSP with potential for lower cost are analyzed. Common to each approach is the use of large square glass reflectors, which have very low areal cost (~$35/m^2) and field-proven reliability in the CSP industry. Chapter 2 describes a freeform toroidal lens array used to intercept the low concentration line focus of a parabolic trough to produce multiple high concentration foci (>800X) for multi-junction cells. In Chapter 3, three embodiments of dish mirrors and freeform lenslet arrays are explored, including an off-axis system. In each case, a dish mirror illuminates a freeform lenslet array, which divides sunlight equally to a sparse matrix of multi-junction cells. The off-axis optical system achieves +/-0.45° acceptance angle and averages 1215X geometric concentration over 400 multi-junction cells. Chapter 4 proposes a new architecture for CSP central receivers that achieves extremely high collection efficiency (>70%) with unconventional heliostat field tracking. In Chapter 5, the design and preliminary testing of a spectrum-splitting hybrid PV/thermal generator is discussed. This system has the advantage of 'drop-in' capability in existing CSP trough plants and allows for thermal storage, an important mitigation to the intermittency of the solar resource.
Degree ProgramGraduate College