The Luminescent Solar Concentrator: Advances, Optimization, and Outlook

The Luminescent Solar Concentrator: Advances, Optimization, and Outlook

Rahul Bose (Imperial College London, UK), Keith W. J. Barnham (Imperial College London, UK) and Amanda J. Chatten (Imperial College London, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-1927-2.ch013
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Luminescent Solar Concentrators (LSCs) offer a way of making Photovoltaic (PV) systems more attractive through reduced energy costs, the possibility of application in cloudy regions, and improved building integration. LSCs collect light over a large area and concentrate it, both spatially and spectrally, onto solar cells at the edges of the device, such that the total cell area required to generate a specific power is reduced. Since the solar cells constitute the more expensive component in the system, this leads to cost reductions. Unlike conventional geometric concentrators, LSCs do not require solar tracking and can collect diffuse as well as direct sunlight. The current research challenges lie in increasing the efficiency of the LSC and extending it to larger areas to make it commercially viable. In this chapter, the authors outline the mode of operation of the LSC, with particular regard to cost considerations and device geometry. They then review recent approaches aiming to increase device efficiency and, finally, introduce their versatile raytrace approach to modelling the LSC. The model is utilised here to investigate tapered LSC designs and rationalise the optimal geometry and configuration for planar LSCs.
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2. Principles Of The Lsc

There are two main principles that govern the luminescent solar concentrator: light capture and waveguiding. A typical LSC as depicted in Figure 1 consists of a transparent plate doped with luminescent centres. Incident light is absorbed by these centres and re-radiated. Due to the difference in refractive index between the plate and the surrounding air a large fraction of the luminescent radiation is trapped within the plate by Total Internal Reflection (TIR). The trapped luminescence is wave-guided to the plate edges where it is converted by PV cells. Ideally, the output is in a narrow spectrum that is matched to the cells. The geometric ratio between the top surface and the edges leads to the concentration.

Figure 1.

A schematic representation of the luminescent solar concentrator (LSC). Incident light from the top is absorbed by a luminescent centre and re-emitted. An escaping ray, a ray emitted toward an edge and a ray trapped by total internal reflection (TIR) are depicted. Solar cells on the edges collect the emission.

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