The CPV Toolbox: Renewing Concentrator Photovoltaics to Power the Renewable Energy Revolution

  • Harry N. Apostoleris

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This thesis is a work of synthesis spanning five years of research in solar energy technology and economics, which aims to identify and develop commercially relevant applications for a recently underappreciated set of solar energy technologies: concentrator photovoltaics (CPV). It begins with an in-depth study of the current economic situation of photovoltaics, specifically the utility-scale systems that represent the bulk of new capacity. It proceeds to assess the technical limitations of current solar technologies to fully address the needs of the market and establishes an argument for prioritizing maximal use of the solar resource in the design of new solar energy harvesting systems. The philosophy of this work is to treat the many component technologies that have been developed in the context of CPV as a 'toolbox', with different components being relied upon as needed to address specific challenges in the application of solar energy in particular contexts. The concept of solar resource splitting is introduced, with particular emphasis on collecting solar energy in different forms (electricity, heat, light) depending on the required end use. The design of solar optics to optimize light splitting in different settings is discussed and several implementations of light-splitting optics are demonstrated. Finally a number of feasibility studies are conducted on specific applications of light-splitting CPV systems, including for agricultural photovoltaics, utility- and industrial-scale heat production and water desalination. The work presented in this thesis is ongoing and has formed the foundation for several recently-funded research projects which seek to demonstrate these systems for commercial application. Hence this work represents a bridging of the gap between academic engineering research and industrial application, with the aim of pioneering new solar technologies tailored to the needs of specific markets, to bring the ongoing renewable energy revolution to its next stage.
Date of AwardMay 2020
Original languageAmerican English
SupervisorMatteo Chiesa (Supervisor)


  • Solar energy
  • solar concentration
  • concentrator photovoltaics
  • energy economics
  • sustainability.

Cite this