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US DoD awards HCPV technology demonstration contract to Pratt & Whitney

15 November 2012

Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne has received a contract from the US Department of Defense (DoD) to demonstrate high-concentration photovoltaic (HCPV) technology as a cost-efficient alternative to solar energy generation.

Awarded by the DoD's Environmental Security Technology Certification Program (ESTCP) office, the $2.3m contract covers the design and development of a 200kW HCPV solar-power field on land at Edwards Air Force Base (AFB) in California, US.

Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne Energy Systems director Neeta Patel said the company will conduct further demonstrations of the revolutionary HCPV technology that provides clean energy, as well as greater energy independence and security.

Under the contract, the company will also conduct field layout, systems integration, energy storage integration, lead development and test of the HCPV/storage hardware, using cost and performance-optimisation models, which have already proven their efficiencies on the International Space Station and during smaller technology demonstrations at the University of Alabama-Huntsville.

Featuring a dozen commercial-scale dual-axis HCPV units that are equipped with 60m2 of the HCPV modules, the proposed solar field will continuously track and feed solar energy to the electrical grid, eliminating DoD's dependence on the local utility company.

Manufactured by Semprius, the small and HCPV powerful modules are designed to concentrate the sun's irradiation by a factor of 1,100 with an enhanced efficiency of more than 33%, in areas having high and direct sun exposure.

As well as covering installation of a 200kW lithium-ion battery unit, the project aims to demonstrate the high-performance and cost-effectiveness of HCPV technology for use at multiple DoD installations throughout the US, followed by large utilities and other industrial applications.