Siemens diversifies solar portfolio with HCPV acquisition

The German engineering giant says that the investment will allow it early access to the "highly promising" HCPV technology, which is reportedly projected to grow to a volume of up to six gigawatts by 2020.

Martin Schulz, VP of Photovoltaics in the Renewable Energy Division of Siemens Energy additionally tells pv magazine that the HCPV modules will begin commercial production "in the course of 2012".

He said that initial production volume will be five megawatts. "More capacity can quickly be provided by additional production facilities, depending on market demand and development," he explains.

While the modules produced will not be exclusively available to Siemens, Schulz said that the company will "serve as a preferred sales channel for SempriusÂ’ modules, outlined in a supply agreement".

No HCPV projects have thus far been announced. However, Schulz did tell pv magazine that Siemens will "closely cooperate" with Semprius and will start building additional test systems soon.

"While Semprius will further develop its modules, Siemens will support the industrialization and optimize the complete system, namely modules, trackers, inverters and other components," he says.

Modules built with Semprius’ patented production process have already been used a full test installation, which has been operational in Arizona since August 2010.

Move away from PV?

Does the HCPV investment represents SiemensÂ’ move away from traditional photovoltaics? "No, not at all," states Schulz.

"The investment shows our commitment to photovoltaics in general. Conventional PV and HCPV are complementary and not substitutes for one another, so we are diversifying our product portfolio."

He continues: "The market for large-scale photovoltaic plants is expected to show an annual growth rate of more than 20 percent, while the share of major projects in particular will increase. A trend involving the entry of utilities and major independent power producers into the PV market is also evident.

"Since the HCPV technology that Semprius is developing is a promising technology especially for regions with high direct solar irradiation, we want to address the attractive ground-mounted PV market in these regions with the HCPV offering. For other areas, we will build upon our business in conventional PV."

Semprius’ HCPV modules are said to use high-performance lenses, which focus sunlight onto small, over 40 percent efficient (NREL certified) cells, which then convert the solar energy directly into electric current.

Advantages of HCPV are said to include: the high conversion performance; low cost; modular configuration; and flexible plant design.

In a statement released, Joe Carr, Semprius President and CEO commented: "We are very pleased to bring Siemens in as a strategic investor as we scale up our capabilities to production levels. Their far-reaching presence and strength in the renewable market offer us an immediate global footprint."