Skyline Solar, a producer of concentrating photovoltaics (CPV) using conventional silicon cells, is looking to Latin and South America. The company is completing its first array in Mexico—currently the largest in Latin America—and looking to other countries in the region as potential markets.
The company has developed its the Skyline X14 System using reflective mirrors to concentrate sunlight 14 times on conventional silicon PV cells, rather than the expensive gallium arsenide (GaAs) cells used in high-CPV (HCPV) modules.
“We think that’s the sweet spot. It uses 93 percent less silicon than [conventional PV] modules,” said Skyline Solar Vice President of Marketing and Field Operations Tim Keating.
By using low-cost cells and glass mirrors, the two technologies combine to create a CPV unit that delivers a lower levelized cost of electricity than other solar technologies, according to Keating. The units are also designed so that the cells can be replaced as cells with higher efficiency levels become available.
The company is nearing completion on the largest array in Latin America, a 500-kilowatt array in Durango, Mexico, being installed by DelSol Systems.
“All of our stuff is likely to be done by the end of next week,” Keating said.
However, the system won’t be commissioned and producing power until later, likely in February.
That’s partly because Mexico is now figuring out how to handle solar on its grid, according to Keating.
“They have a national power company; they haven’t done a lot of interconnects [with solar],” he said.
Skyline Solar anticipates that the market in Mexico and in South America will soon grow.
“The Mexican market is going to hit maturity fast due to the fact that they are generating power in kind of an old regulated way, so there are a lot of inefficiencies. The law allowing self generation has only been around for a few years there. It was mostly used for wind, as it was here in the U.S.,” Keating said.
The company has other projects in the works, both in Mexico and in Chile, but the company isn’t ready to announce details, according to Keating.
“The two biggest markets we see in the short term of interest to us are Mexico and Chile,” he said. “Western Brazil is also going to be quite interesting.”
The company’s CPV is suited to sunny locations as are HCPV systems.
“Even if the clouds come over, we’ll still produce some power,” Keating said.
That’s partly since they use regular silicon PV instead of GaAs PV, but the trough design reflects off-angle light back on the cells. And since they use silicon PV the devices are more tolerant of less than optimal sunlight so, they can handle more climates.