5. 4 Concentrators, PV for Space Applications, and TPV
Space, Cost Reduction, Silicon Solar Cell(s), Light Trapping
Summary / Abstract:
The market of small-scale space satellites has been growing significantly. Concepts as CubeSats, based on open-hardware platforms became a standard, opening new opportunities for small companies such as technological start-ups. However, prototypes’ associated costs are still an obstacle, mainly due to their power systems. Historically photovoltaic technology was elected as one of the most reliable solutions to power satellites. Multijunction solar cells based on III-V groups elements are the most efficient photovoltaic devices, enabling high energy densities. Reason why they became the standard for spatial applications. Nevertheless, the associated cost of such devices is a hindrance for short-term satellites’ missions. For such applications, the use of more cost-effective technologies as crystalline silicon solar cells should be considered even if their efficiencies are lower. Moreover, the use of advanced light trapping concepts could further enhance the conversion efficiency while reducing solar cell’s thickness and mass. A very effective way to improve light capture in crystalline silicon is surface texturization. Silicon technology has the potential to deliver 70% of energy per unit of area of the best III-V solar cells while reducing the cost by two to three orders of magnitude.