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Chroma Energy Private Ltd. (Chroma Energy) was incorporated in 2010 to design, develop and manufacture at scale Solar Power generating systems using Concentrated Photovoltaic (CPV) technology. Chroma Energy’s first objective is to design and develop CPV systems that generate power at efficiencies comparable to those delivered by global leaders in the field and at reasonable cost per unit generated. It has undertaken several developmental initiatives that will deliver cost effective CPV based solutions that are tailored to suit atmospheric and ambient conditions in India and similar climes.

Based on its extensive study covering literature, in-house research on important components, participation at national and international conferences, discussions with international experts in ‘mother’ sciences such as optics and semiconductors, as well as many visits and exchange of notes with leading western CPV technology developers, component suppliers and manufacturing experts, Chroma Energy believes that CPV is best placed to meet India’s ambitions in utility grade solar implementations.

The Chroma Energy Initiative

Since international costs are high and would continue to be so and that includes transportation it will not be economical to transplant such solutions. Moreover, one key factor driving efficiency is the optical concentration and efficient spectral use; the latter is a function of the atmospheric conditions over India. As compared to the USA and Europe, where current leaders in CPV are based, India has a higher aerosol content in the atmosphere making the incoming solar spectrum rich in red and also increasing the fraction of diffuse solar radiation. Indian locations also have higher humidity (effect on system longevity) and higher ambient temperatures (effect on cell efficiency). This requires that the target solution be ‘localised’ and rigorously tested.

In order to achieve sharp decline in cost/kWh, Chroma Energy believes it has to optimise the design of subsystems namely [1] optics, [2] CPV cell receivers, [3] CPV module design and [4] tracker design and integration with the module bearing panel. Power conversion and grid connectivity gear is another important subsystem (BoS) where Chroma Energy shall work with its associates in Power Electronics. Given the cost of bill of material, the aim of delivering ever-lower cost/kWh needs optimisation of cost of manufacture, transport and installation. Thus the design has to be honed for manufacturability (use of automation, robotics) and for achieving the scale economies. Chroma Energy is already working and will continue to work on these aspects.


Scope for Research & Development

The need for research & development in CPV is high because of ‘inter-relatedness’ of the subsystems enumerated above. For example, any change in the optics design has an impact on the angle of acceptance (a crucial variable) and therefore the accuracy required in the tracker or stiffness of mechanical structure or both. Use of high acceptance angle optics increases the tolerance budget and will allow lessening of manufacturing tolerances and lower stiffness of structures; both will contribute to lower manufactured cost and enhanced manufacturability. There is considerable work to be done with cell manufacturers to develop cells that will cope with Indian spectral delinquencies (red richness for example). These are some of the issues Chroma Energy has already identified and on which work has commenced.