Google will install EnFocus Engineering’s Diamond Power Daylighter concentrating photovoltaic (CPV) skylights at one of its Silicon Valley offices. Google’s offices will serve as a test site for the devices.
The devices, still in their prototype stage, consist of small lenses that focus the light hitting the small, high-efficiency gallium arsenide photovoltaic cells by 400 times. The lenses are on a dual-axis tracker, allowing them to move with the sun to get the most power to the cells throughout the day. The devices were on display at the recent Intersolar conference in San Francisco. Since the whole unit doesn’t need to tilt to track the sun it allows it to have a lower profile that’s adaptable to rooftops.
The modules are designed as a building-integrated CPV device, whereas most CPV devices on the market are designed as large stand-alone devices, like the Amonix arrays, which are larger than an IMAX screen. The 288-watt 100-pound units are 53 inches by 44 inches and fully encased to keep weather from affecting the modules, and are about the size of a standard skylight or window.
“This pilot is at a very early stage, and I believe it hasn't actually begun yet,” said Google spokesperson Parag Chokshi. As such, he couldn’t give more specifics on the project, such as how many modules are being installed.
Google does a lot of work with new technology pilots at its campuses and has recently been investing in the solar industry.
“We're always interested in new technologies and work with a lot of partners on similar arrangements to do pilots [or] demos on our campus here,” Chokshi said.
The device also allows light to pass through the lenses providing natural lighting wherever the modules are installed. Since modules only absorb some of the light, they help to diffuse the light entering through the building and help reduce the amount of heat that could enter through the skylights.
EnFocus Engineering is now seeking venture capital to further develop the technology, according to GigaOm. The company is seeking $3 million to expand beyond the startup and pilot phase.
It previously won a Solar America Initiative grant of $2.9 million. Inland Metal Industries, which is fabricating and assembling the prototypes, is also an investor in the technology.