Electrowetting-driven Solar Trackers for concentrated photovoltaic (CPV) rooftop applications

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Concentrated photovoltaic (CPV) technologies, which use additional optics (lenses or mirrors) to concentrate a large amount of sunlight onto a small area of the cells, can reduce the cost of PV systems. One of the key components of CPV systems is a solar tracker that enables to orient the optics toward sun’s position daily and seasonally. However, since a tracker, composed of multiple mechanical moving parts such as motors and supporters, is expensive, complex, bulky, and heavy (loaded weight about ~3000kg for dual-axis trackers). Not only do such complex and heavy mechanical moving parts increase installation and operation cost of the CPV systems, but also require power consumption as high as ~300W for solar tracking. These reasons make CPV technologies difficult to be used for building rooftop integration. Here, we report an optofluidic solar tracker (OFST) that doesn’t need any bulky and heavy mechanical trackers. The electrowetting-driven (i.e. non-mechanical) OFST can provide several unique advantages over conventional mechanical trackers, including (1) extremely low power consumption in the range of ~mW; (2) low cost and simple supporting hardware; (3) wide tracking angle up to ±70° without any mechanical moving parts; and (4) quiet operation for a rooftop application.

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Journal: TechConnect Briefs
Volume: Technical Proceedings of the 2012 Clean Technology Conference and Trade Show
Published: June 18, 2012
Pages: 1 - 4
Industry sector: Energy & Sustainability
Topic: Solar Technologies
ISBN: 978-1-4665-6277-6