An important consideration in the practical realization of high-concentration photovoltaic devices is the heat rejection at high power densities to the environment. Recently, optical designs for generating solar flux in excess of 1000 suns on advanced solar cells — while respecting flux homogeneity and system compactness — were suggested with the introduction of solar fiber-optic mini-dish concentrators, tailored specifically to high-flux photovoltaic devices [1]. At the core of the design is the miniaturization of the smallest building block in the system — the concentrator and the cell — permitting low-cost mass production and reliance on passive heat rejection of solar energy that is not converted to electricity. First, this paper proposes a relatively simple 1-D axi-symmetric model for predicting the thermal and electrical performance of such mini-dish high-flux concentrators. Experimental measurements were performed with a real-sun solar simulator, indoors under controllable conditions, a flux levels up to 5,000 suns. A CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) model was also developed for model-validation. Both the modeling approaches predict heat sink temperatures within experimental uncertainty of a couple of degrees. Next, the 1-D axi-symmetric model is used to evaluate the sensitivity of different solar cell model assumptions, environmental effects (such as outdoor temperature, and the wind speed), heat sink size and geometry, thermal contact resistance, etc. It was confirmed that the miniaturization of the solar cell module permits passive heat rejection, such that solar cell temperatures should not reach more than 80°C at peak insolation and stagnation conditions. Though the cell rated efficiency degrades by only 1–2% in absolute terms, higher cell temperatures may compromise the integrity of the cell circuitry and of the encapsulation. The 1-D axi-symmetric model also allows optimization of the heat sink geometric dimensions for a given volume. Hour-by-hour performance simulation results for such an optimized design configuration were performed for one month in summer and one month in winter for two locations namely Philadelphia, PA and Phoenix, AZ. The insight gained from this study is important for the proper design of the various components and materials to be used in PV mini-dishes. Equally important is that it allows similar types of analyses to be performed and well-informed design choices to be made for mini-dishes that have to operate under different climatic conditions with cells of different performance and concentration ratios.

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