JDS Uniphase Gets Into Concentrating Photovoltaics

Sep. 3.10 | About: Viavi Solutions (VIAV)

JDS Uniphase (NASDAQ: JDSU) announced that it is entering the solar industry as a supplier of concentrator photovoltaic (CPV) cells.

The company, which is an established supplier of optical products for telecommunications service providers, cable operators and network equipment manufacturers, is expected to make a big splash in the CPV sector, which has only a limited number of cell suppliers.

Cost has been a primary factor holding back the development of CPV, but a large manufacturer like JDSU, with significant experience in mass production, could help to bring costs down.

Concentraing photovoltaic solar power is just beginning to be incorporated into utility-scale solar projects. Earlier this month, Cogentrix Energy LLC announced plans to build a 30-megawatts (MW) power plant in Colorado, using concentrator PV panels made by Amonix. The plant is the largest of its type planned for construction. And CPV company Solaria recently signed a five-year supply agreement with enXco.

“Initial demonstrations of CPV technology have proven successful and now larger projects are starting to ramp,” said Greg Sheppard, chief research officer at analyst firm iSuppli. “CPV installations will represent 100 MW in 2011 and we expect that number to grow to one gigawatt by 2015. CPV will have a particular advantage in sunny regions, such as in the desert, over other solar technologies.”

According to the “CPV Industry Report 2010,” CPV system installations in the US will represent $70 million in 2010 and are expected to grow to more than $3 billion by 2015. The CPV market is initially being driven by use in power plants at college campuses, shopping centers and industrial buildings that generate power in the 500 kilowatts (kW) to 10 MW range, compared to residential roof-top housing market installations that use about 5kW per home.

JDSU said its CPV cells use optics to capture concentrated sunlight at 500 to 1,000 times its original power, allowing for conversion efficiencies approaching 40%. Additional benefits include a small footprint and less use of semiconductor materials.

Alan Lowe, president of Communications and Commercial Optical Products at JDSU, said, “The CPV cell from JDSU brings a viable technology to the solar market that leverages our strong history of semiconductor experience and volume manufacturing expertise.”

JDSU also said it will provide photovoltaic solutions for the digital monitoring of smart grid field equipment.

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