A company called SolFocus (which was spun out of Xerox Palo Alto Research Center in 2006) has started installation of a 3-megawatt solar power plant in southern Spain. SolFocus makes solar cells that use much less silicon than regular panels because they use lenses and mirrors to concentrate sunlight. The solar concentrators magnify sunlight 500 times, which according to the company, is the “sweet spot” between higher energy production and excessive heat.
The blocks have two sets of mirrors: mirrors on bottom face reflect sunlight back to mirrors on the top face, and these in turn reflect the light on to one-millimeter-square photovoltaic cells popped into the center of the bottom mirrors.
Silicon-based solar panels today cost close to $3 per watt to produce. Solfocus says that larger scale production of its concentrators (in the area of gigawatts) would cut the cost per watt to just 50 cents. The second generation version of the device should cut costs further to as low as 32 cents per watt, according to the company.
Via: Press Release