Soitec’s new 25-kilowatt demonstration concentrator photovoltaic array in rural Namibia gives the French company a new connection with the African country’s primary utility NamPower.
Companies around the world have announced several solar agreements with NamPower over the last two years and it seems there could be potential for future solar development in the arid southwestern African country that gets more than 300 days of sunshine a year.
Soitec’s latest announcement of a demonstration project in remote village Usib is aimed at showing NamPower the value of CPV technology, according to a press release from the semiconductor and solar manufacturer.
"Building a project such as this one allows us to demonstrate the real-world application of our CPV technology in hot and arid locations," said Gaetan Borgers, executive vice president of Soitec Solar Division. "Through our direct involvement, we also can express Soitec's commitment to improving educational opportunities and community life.”
The project will supply power for a school that provides education and lodging for about 100 students from the remote areas near Usib. In addition to powering the school, Soitec’s technology powers a water pump that irrigates the community garden.
The school gets credit from NamPower for the electricity that the donated demonstration project produces.
The Namibia installation is just one of several similar demonstration projects in other rural and arid parts of the world. Soitec aims to give back while also demonstrating the power of its CPV technology. It has installed similar arrays in 18 countries with high direct normal irradiance.
“CPV is the most efficient technology in the photovoltaic industry, achieving current energy-generating efficiencies of 30 percent - approximately twice that of conventional photovoltaic technologies,” according to Soitec’s release.”
Soitec's CPV modules use a glass-glass design and Fresnel lenses to concentrate sunlight 500 times onto small, highly efficient multi-junction solar cells. Combined with a dual-axis tracking system, the array is producing significant amounts of energy with a relatively small footprint, according to the release.