David Danzilio EMCORE Photovoltaics, 10420 Research Road SE, Albuquerque, NM 87123
Over the last decade, III-V multi-junction solar cells have effectively displaced silicon solar cells for generating power on the majority of commercial and military satellites. This technology shift was driven by the substantially higher conversion efficiency (28.5% for muti-junction vs. 17% for Si), superior radiation tolerance and the potential for continual performance advances offered by InGaP/InGaAs/Ge solar cells. These advantages enable satellite solar arrays with higher specific power (watts/kg of array weight), reduced launch costs and longer satellite service life (>15years in geosynchronous orbit). These are important factors that favorably influence the economics of satellite manufacturing and the satellite services industry. This technology is also finding broad application in utility-scale concentrating photovoltaic systems where multi-junction solar cells provide a substantial cost and performance advantage over silicon solar cells. Furthermore the worldwide multi-junction solar cell industry is extremely price competitive with annual price erosion of 7-10% being common. Key to EMCORE’s success in this highly competitive industry is its well-developed compound semiconductor solar cell technology and mature manufacturing capability. This multi-million dollar investment in technology and production capacity has enabled EMCORE Photovoltaics to become the largest manufacturer of high efficiency multi-junction compound semiconductor solar cells in the world.