PV sweeps German environmental prizes

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Soitec Solar has brought the CPV technology researched and developed by Fraunhofer ISE onto the market. For the efforts put into CPV (concentrator photovoltaics), the Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt (DBU) or German Environmental Foundation, will present Bett and Lerchenmüller the highest endowed environmental award in Europe. The DBU will also honour SMA Solar Technology’s Günther Cramer.

Winning with CPV

Fritz Brickwedde, Secretary General of DBU says Bett and Lerchenmüller built their first pilot plant in Lorca (Spain) in 2006 with financial backing from DBU. Plants in 14 countries on four continents have followed up to now – including in the USA, Italy, France, Egypt, South Africa, China and Saudi Arabia.

General Manager of Soitec Solar Lerchenmüller states, "The efficiency of a concentrator module manufactured by Soitec Solar is currently about 30 percent. At the same time, we are using cost-effective materials. Exactly this combination of low material costs and high efficiency is the key to keeping electricity production costs down."

In 2009, Bett and his team achieved a world record efficiency of 41.1% for a III-V multi-junction solar cell under laboratory conditions. Both Bett and Lerchenmüller see further potential for increasing the efficiency of solar cells and modules in the future.

String technology for simplification

The other winner, Cramer, is also noted by Brickwedde as deserving of the prize. He says that by focusing consistently on research and development, Cramer, together with co-founders Peter Drews and Reiner Wettlaufer, had succeeded in turning the SMA from a small engineering consultancy into a globally active technology and market leader employing more than 5,500 people.

He adds that SMA had made a major technological contribution to the success of photovoltaics and to reducing costs by developing the string technology, which was introduced in 1996 with the "Sunny Boy" inverters, by simplifying installation and maintenance procedures, and by increasing the efficiency of the inverters to the extremely high level of 99 percent using a series of new high-performance electronic solutions.

The awards ceremony will take place in Leipzig, Germany on October 28. The prize money of €500,000, to be presented by German President Joachim Gauck, will be shared by the winners.