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Skyline Solar

Skyline Solar was founded in 2007 to manufacture medium-concentration photovoltaic systems using silicon cells, durable reflectors, and single-axis tracking. The company focuses on concentrated photovoltaic systems, which combine the benefits of concentrating solar power systems with those of photovoltaic cells. The result of such a combination is increased energy from the PV cells without the need to generate the extremely high temperatures of a concentrated solar power station that uses steam turbines. Such systems deliver roughly 10 times the amount of power area of a standard photovoltaic system.

Technology

There are three types of concentrated photovoltaic systems (CPVs). Low CPV technology will concentrate sunlight 2 to 100 fold. These cells have two advantages. First, they do not need to be actively cooled because the heat flux is low at these concentrations. Second, because the concentration lenses are relatively wide-angle and large aperture, there is no need for a tracking system. The downside is that these systems produce less electricity than high concentration systems.

Medium CPV is in the range of 100 to 300 fold concentration. These systems do not necessarily require active cooling, but they do require tracking systems. These are ideal systems in many ways because cooling is one of the major expenses and drawbacks to any concentrated solar installation. CSP is often installed where it is sunny, such as deserts, which puts water at a premium.

High CPV systems concentrate sunlight well over 300 fold, sometimes as much as 500 fold. These systems require actively cooling to prevent thermal damage and complex dual-axis tracking systems. Nevertheless, active research is developing these systems is underway given their current 41% efficiency in creating electricity.

Market Segment

Skyline Solar focuses on designing, installing, and maintaining medium CPV systems. These are currently the most economically viable CPV systems available and offer many advantages over CSP and standard PV systems.

Skyline Solar targets distributed generation customers rather than large-scale industrial applications. This means that Skyline Solar systems are aimed for individual consumers in residential, commercial, or industrial settings. The energy produced by the system is either consumed by the owner of the PV system or fed back into the grid for a feed-in tariff.

Another major advantage of CPV systems that Skyline Solar demonstrates is that the same amount of electricity can be generated using CPV with few silicon cells compared to standard PV. Because PV cells are the most expensive part of any solar PV installation, reducing their quantity greatly lowers cost. As of 2011, CPV claimed ~$1 USD/watt whereas standard silicon panels where in the range of $3 USD/watt. CPV is expected to reach grid parity before standard PV systems.

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