California to fund CPV storage demo

The California Energy Commission (CEC) is funding a two-phase demonstrator project by US group Maxwell Technologies and French semiconductor specialist Soitec that aims to prove-up cost and efficiency benefits of concentrating PV (CPV) technologies with built-in storage.

Maxwell has been awarded a $1.39m contract by the CEC's research and development programme to fund design and integration of a Soitec CPV installation and an energy storage system based on ultracapacitors – high-speed battery-like charging devices.

The pilot will be built at University of California San Diego (UCSD), with a larger, commercial-scale plant – also using Soitec’s CPV technology – wired up in southern California. 

The systems will be fitted with new solar-forecasting and predictive-energy control software, to boost the storage levels.

“This innovative energy storage system combining ultra-capacitators and Soitec’s CPV technology, which is already installed on campus, is a welcome addition to UCSD’s existing microgrid and provides a unique diversification of our existing energy storage capacity,” says Byron Washom, UC San Diego's director of strategic initiatives.

Soitec’s fifth-generation Concentrix CPV systems are built around modules that achieve an efficiency of 30% through the use of a combination of concentrator optics and high-efficiency solar cells.

David Schramm, Maxwell’s CEO says: “This programme is providing an opportunity to demonstrate how ultracapacitor technology can be applied to provide more efficient and cost-effective solutions for a variety of short-term power requirements.”

The project is slated to run through November 2015.

California is targeting a goal of 33% renewable generation by 2020.