Optical performance and alignment characterization of a parabolic trough collector using a multi-junction CPV solar cell

Richard Felsberger*, Armin Buchroithner, Bernhard Gerl, Bernhard Schweighofer, Rupert Preßmair, Tobias Mitter, Hannes Wegleiter

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Parabolic trough collectors are widely used to generate thermal and/or electrical energy from direct solar irradiation. These collectors use parabolic mirrors to precisely focus sunlight onto so-called absorber tubes. The optimal design and geometric alignment of all necessary components is essential in order to achieve a high degree of efficiency and a high energy yield. However, this optical fine-tuning process can be quite challenging and is in many cases avoided by using absorber tubes with larger diameters, which in turn cause greater thermal losses and a higher material effort. This paper describes a simple, yet reliable and quantifiable way to measure the optical performance of a parabolic trough collector using a commercial multi-junction solar cell (CPV). The presented measurement system allows for convenient adjustment of the parabolic mirror and the effective optimization of the overall collector design. The theoretical background is discussed and the test setup is described in detail. Measurement results are presented, ranging from the determination of the actual optical concentration ratio, the optimal centering and height adjustment of the absorber tube to the measurement of the contribution of the individual mirror segments, revealing that the investigated industrial parabolic trough collector can be improved in terms of optical accuracy. Finally, an optical surveillance of the mirror using a line laser was performed to validate the results.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)40-49
Number of pages10
JournalSolar Energy
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022


  • Solar flux measurement system
  • Concentration ratio
  • Parabolic trough collector
  • Multi-junction cell
  • Concentrated photovoltaic (CPV)
  • Concentrated solar power (CSP)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment


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