Design and testing of concentrated photovoltaic arrays for retrofitting of solar thermal parabolic trough collectors

Richard Felsberger*, Armin Buchroithner, Bernhard Gerl, Bernhard Schweighofer, Hannes Wegleiter

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A new design and retrofit approach for a concentrated photovoltaic thermal (CPV-T) system based on a parabolic trough collector is presented. The design differs from previous hybrid architectures, employing a significantly simplified topology in order to reduce costs while keeping electrical efficiency high. To achieve this ambitious goal, the absorber tube of a conventional parabolic trough collector used in thermal systems is replaced by a newly developed hybrid absorber equipped with multi-junction solar cells. This offers the advantage that existing solar thermal parabolic trough facilities can be easily retrofitted, making the system scalable and cost-effective. A scaled prototype of the system was designed and tested in Graz, Austria. During on-sun tests an average electrical system efficiency of 26.8 % with a simultaneous thermal efficiency of 48.8 % was measured using a geometric concentration ratio of 150 (DNI based). This leads to an overall average system efficiency of 75.5 %. Moreover, a solar cell peak efficiency of 30 % was achieved, one of the highest measured solar-to-DC efficiencies for a parabolic trough-based solar collector. Special attention was paid to the temperature difference between the solar cells and the heat transfer fluid in order to ensure sufficient cooling of the cells and maximize thermal efficiency. The electrical, thermal and overall efficiencies at different heat transfer fluid temperatures were measured (17 C - 90 C) and their coefficients were derived. This work serves as an experimental proof-of-concept for the application of solar cells in parabolic trough collectors, thereby opening up new possibilities for cost reduction of CPV-T systems.
Original languageEnglish
Article number117427
Number of pages11
JournalApplied Energy
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2021


  • Solar energy
  • Concentrated photovoltaic thermal system (CPV-T)
  • Concentrated photovoltaic (CPV)
  • Parabolic trough
  • Concentrated solar power (CSP)
  • Hybrid absorber
  • Multi-junction cell

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Energy(all)
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Building and Construction


Dive into the research topics of 'Design and testing of concentrated photovoltaic arrays for retrofitting of solar thermal parabolic trough collectors'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this