Planar microtracking provides an alternate paradigm for solar concentration that offers the possibility of realizing high-efficiency embedded concentrating photovoltaic systems in the form factor of standard photovoltaic panels. Here, we investigate the thermodynamic limit of planar tracking optical concentrators and establish that they can, in principal, achieve the sine limit of their orientationally-tracked counterparts provided that the receiver translates a minimum distance set by the field of view half-angle. We develop a phase space methodology to optimize practical planar tracking concentrators and apply it to the design of a two surface, catadioptric system that operates with > 90% optical efficiency over a 140° field of view at geometric gains exceeding 1000×. These results provide a reference point for subsequent developments in the field and indicate that planar microtracking can achieve the high optical concentration ratio required in commercial concentrating photovoltaic systems.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics