Swiss startup Insolight has raised â‚¬4.6 million to bring its concentrating PV module technology to commercial production. The panels have a claimed efficiency of 30% and power output of 160 W. Originally conceived for rootop solar, the product is now being recommended as an interesting option for agrivoltaic projects.
August 4, 2020
Swiss start-up Insolight â€“ founded by three researchers from the Ă‰cole polytechnique fĂ©dĂ©rale de Lausanne â€“ has closed a CHF5 million (â‚¬4.63 million) funding round from several Swiss backers including investment firm Investire and financial services provider ZĂĽrcher Kantonalbank. The Swiss Immo Lab real estate innovation company founded by mortgage company Avobis, insurer GVB and lender Hypothekarbank Lenzburg was also among the backers in the latest funding exercise for the concentrating PV (CPV) start-up.
Insolight said it will use the cash, plus â‚¬10 million granted by the European Union, to bring its CPV module technology to commercial production.
Originally conceived for rooftop applications, the panel is now being recommended by Insolight as an interesting option for agrivoltaic projects.
â€śOur initial goal is to provide the same LCOE [levelized cost of energy] as other agrivoltaics solutions while providing additional agricultural benefits,â€ť Insolight CEO Laurent Coulot told pv magazine. â€śThe cost is projected to be below $0.35/Wp [â‚¬0.297] for [a] 100 MWp scenario.â€ť
With Insolight last week revealing module production would be outsourced, Coulot added: â€śThe modules are currently produced in different locations across Europe. We are currently setting up the production of the first 1,000 units for pilot purposes, with industrial partners.â€ť
The product spec states the CPV panel has a 30% efficiency and power output of 160 W at standard conditions of 25 degrees Celsius and 1,000 W/m2 irradiance. The product can reportedly operate with maximum system voltage of 500 V and at temperatures ranging from -40 to 85 degrees Celsius. The 1,141x595x50mm module weighs 20 kg and, according to its developer, is as easy to install as conventional solar panels. Its connector is MC4-compatible and its junction box has an IP 67 rating.
The panel relies on expensive III-V multi-junction solar cells from an undisclosed manufacturer. The cells cover only 0.5% of the panel surface and are covered with protective glass and optical lenses to concentrate and direct sunlight onto them at around 100 times the intensity of standard solar glass. The cells are reportedly able to track the sun through horizontal movement, with the company stating: â€śHorizontal movements of a few millimeters per day keep the cells aligned with the light beams.â€ť
The company added: â€śInsolight intends to sell [the] first modules to large solar energy corporates for application in agrivoltaics. There is a unique potential for high efficiency and translucent modules to produce both solar electricity and crops on the land, whether deployed on fields or greenhouses.â€ť
The â‚¬10 million grant awarded Insolight by the EU came as part of the blocâ€™s Hyperion project to sustainably renovate historic areas.