IEEE Journal of Photovoltaics

Optimizing defocus to increase efficiency in concentrator photovoltaic modules

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We describe a process for increasing power efficiency of concentrator photovoltaic (PV) systems by optimizing the lens-to-cell spacing. We find that there is an optimum defocus position with improved power output and reduced sensitivity to pointing errors, which, in combination, can result in a more than 10% enhancement. The improvement can be realized by minor changes to module cases which should not require changes to other manufacturing, installation, or component costs. In fact, optimizing the defocus position allows for lower costs per unit power due to increased power and relaxed system tolerances. This paper focuses on detailed data illuminating the behavior of ultrahigh concentration PV modules, while one can look forward to optimizing defocus through sufficiently detailed simulation; at present, we find that an empirical determination of optimum defocus is necessary. The data reveal that even without design parameters changing, supply chain changes can have a significant impact on the optimum defocus; data from five different module configurations with components from different manufacturing lots are presented. These different configurations serve to illustrate the consequences of component changes and the importance of verifying the optimum defocus. A detailed discussion of the effects that are important to determine the optimum defocus and which underlie these differences is included.