We present a design for a flat concentrating photovoltaic (CPV) system that requires only lateral displacement for sun-tracking, intended for residential rooftop applications. Compared with flat-plate photovoltaics (PVs), CPV technology is essential for reducing the use of semi-conductor materials, which also enables cheaper solar power generation. Existing CPV designs are more bulky and complex than traditional PV panel techniques and are therefore better suited to solar farms than rooftop use. In this study, we explore an alternate approach, employing a mirror-coated lenslet array, to demonstrate a flat CPV system for rooftop installation. This mirror-coated lenslet array collects solar radiation and concentrates it with a very short focal length. The lateral movement of lenslet focal points according to a changing incident angle of sunlight allows for the use of a lateral displacement tracking mechanism. A square array of solar cells integrated on a transparent sheet is placed on top of a mirror-coated lenslet array to collect focused sunlight and convert it to electricity. The proposed CPV panel can be achieved with a 35 mm thickness. Simulation models were developed using commercial optical design software (LightTools). The simulation demonstrates an optical efficiency of up to 89.5% when the concentration ratio of the system is fixed to 50×. The simplicity of the structure enables cheaper mass production. Our quest for a lateral displacement sun-tracking mechanism also shows that the system has a high tolerance, thereby enabling cost savings by replacing a highly precise, active sun-tracking system with a lower-accuracy system. The presented flat CPV is a strong candidate for a low-cost, high-efficiency solar energy system that can be installed on the rooftops of residential buildings to deliver energy savings.
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