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Title:
SOLAR RECEIVER WITH SOLAR CELL ARRAY
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2017/210567
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A solar energy collector system may include a solar receiver having a plurality of solar cells. One or more interior solar cells may be coupled to a bypass circuit. One or more interior solar cells may not be bypassed. The plurality of solar cells may define more than two columns of solar cell segments. The more than two columns may include two exterior columns and one or more interior columns. Each cell segment may include three or less solar cells. The solar receiver may include a circuit board. The circuit board may include first surface conductors, vias, and second surface conductors utilized to bypass one or more solar cells.

Inventors:
SUMNER, Michael, Ward (7700 Summer Avenue NE, Albuquerque, NM, 87110, US)
FORESI, James, S. (211 15th Street SW, Albuquerque, NM, 87104, US)
Application Number:
US2017/035699
Publication Date:
December 07, 2017
Filing Date:
June 02, 2017
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
SUNCORE PHOTOVOLTAICS, INC. (3825 Academy Parkway South NE, Albuquerque, NM, 87109, US)
International Classes:
H01L31/0525; F24J2/12; H01L31/044; H01L31/054
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
GOEDEN, Matthew, C. (Mueting, Raasch & Gebhardt P.A.,P.O. Box 58133, Minneapolis MN, 55458-1336, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

What is claimed is:

1. A system comprising: a solar receiver comprising: a substrate defining a first surface and a second surface opposite the first surface; and a solar cell array extending from a first end region to a second end region, wherein the solar cell array comprises a plurality of solar cells coupled to the first surface of the substrate and arranged into a plurality of columns extending parallel to each other from the first end region to the second end region, wherein each column of the plurality of columns comprises a different set of solar cells of the plurality of solar cells electrically coupled in series from the first end region to the second end region, wherein the plurality of columns are electrically coupled to each other in series, wherein the plurality of columns comprises more than two columns.

2. The system of claim 1, wherein the solar receiver further comprises a plurality of bypass diodes coupled to the first surface of the substrate, wherein each bypass diode of the plurality of bypass diodes is electrically coupled to one or more solar cells of the plurality of solar cells.

3. The system of claim 2, wherein the solar receiver further comprises at least one pair of second surface conductors coupled to the second surface of the substrate, wherein each pair of the at least one pair of second surface conductors electrically couples at least one solar cell of the plurality of solar cells to a different bypass diode of the plurality of bypass diodes.

4. The system of claim 3, wherein the plurality of columns defines: at least two exterior columns; and at least one interior column between the at least two exterior columns, wherein a pair of the at least one pair of second surface conductors electrically couples at least one solar cell of the set of solar cells of the at least one interior column to a bypass diode of the plurality of bypass diodes, wherein at least one solar cell of the set of solar cells of the at least one interior column is not electrically coupled to any of the plurality of bypass diodes.

5. A system comprising: a solar receiver comprising: a substrate defining a first surface and a second surface opposite the first surface; one or more electronic components coupled to the first surface of the substrate; a solar cell array extending from a first end region to a second end region, wherein the solar cell array comprises a plurality of solar cells coupled to the first surface of the substrate and arranged into a plurality of columns extending parallel to each other from the first end region to the second end region, wherein each column of the plurality of columns comprises a different set of solar cells of the plurality of solar cells electrically coupled in series from the first end region to the second end region, wherein the plurality of columns are electrically coupled to each other in series; and at least one pair of second surface conductors coupled to the second surface of the substrate, wherein each pair of the at least one pair of second surface conductors electrically couples at least one solar cell of the plurality of solar cells to the one or more electronic components.

6. The system of claim 5, wherein the one or more electronic components comprises one or more bypass diodes.

7. The system of claim 5, wherein the one or more electronic components comprises a power component monitor.

8. The system of claim 5, wherein the plurality of columns defines: at least two exterior columns; and at least one interior column between the at least two exterior columns, wherein each pair of the at least one pair of second surface conductors electrically couples at least one solar cell of the set of solar cells of the at least one interior column to at least one of the electronic components.

9. The system of claim 8, wherein at least one solar cell of the set of solar cells of the at least one interior column is not electrically coupled to any of the one or more electronic components.

10. The systems as in any one of claims 5-9, wherein the solar receiver further comprises: a first conductive set of vias extending from the first surface to the second surface electrically coupling the at least one solar cell to the at least one pair of second surface conductors; and a second of conductive set of vias extending from the first surface to the second surface electrically coupling the one or more electronic components to the at least one pair of second surface conductors.

11. The system as in any one of claims 8-10, wherein the solar receiver comprises a plurality of first surface conductors coupled to the first surface of the substrate electrically coupling the set of solar cells of the two exterior columns to the plurality of electronic components.

12. A system comprising: a solar receiver comprising: a substrate defining a first surface and a second surface opposite the first surface; a plurality of bypass diodes coupled to the first surface of the substrate; and a solar cell array extending from a first end region to a second end region, wherein the solar cell array comprises a plurality of solar cells coupled to the first surface of the substrate and arranged into a plurality of columns extending parallel to each other from the first end region to the second end region, wherein each column of the plurality of columns comprises a different set of solar cells of the plurality of solar cells electrically coupled in series from the first end region to the second end region, wherein the plurality of columns are electrically coupled to each other in series, wherein the plurality of columns defines: at least two exterior columns, and at least one interior column between the at least two exterior columns, wherein at least one solar cell of the set of solar cells of the one or more interior columns is electrically coupled to at least one bypass diode of the plurality of bypass diodes, wherein at least one solar cell of the set of solar cells of the one or more interior columns is not electrically coupled to any of the plurality of bypass diodes.

13. The system as claim 8-12, wherein the at least one interior column comprises two or more interior columns.

14. The system as in any one of claims 12-13, wherein at least one bypass diode of the plurality of bypass diodes is electrically coupled to at least one solar cell of the sets of solar cells of the at least two exterior columns.

15. The system as in any one of claims 8-14, wherein the at least one solar cell of the set of solar cells of the at least one interior column electrically coupled to the at least one bypass diode of the plurality of bypass diodes comprises: a first interior solar cell located closest to the first end region of the solar cell array than the remainder of the solar cells of the set of solar cells of the at least one interior column; and a second interior solar cell located closest to the second end region of the solar cell array than the remainder of the solar cells of the set of solar cells of the at least one interior column.

16. The system as in any one of claims 1-15, wherein the plurality of columns consist essentially of four columns.

17. The system as in any one of claims 1-16, wherein the solar cells of each set of solar cells of the plurality of columns are arranged into a plurality of solar cell segments electrically coupled in series from the first end region of the solar cell array to the second end region of the solar cell array, wherein each solar cell segment of the plurality of solar cell segments comprises two or more solar cells of the plurality of solar cells electrically coupled in parallel.

18. The system as in any one of claims 1-16, wherein the solar cells of each set of solar cells of the plurality of columns are arranged into a plurality of solar cell segments electrically coupled in series from the first end region of the solar cell array to the second end region of the solar cell array, wherein each solar cell segment of the plurality of solar cell segments comprises three or less solar cells of the plurality of solar cells electrically coupled in parallel.

19. The system as in any one of claims 1-18, wherein the system further comprises: a reflector configured to reflect light onto the solar cell array of the solar receiver; and a support structure coupled to the reflector and the receiver configured to position and to align the solar receiver with the reflector.

20. A system comprising: a solar array comprising: a plurality of solar cells arranged into a plurality of columns extending parallel to each other from a first end region to a second end region, wherein each column of the plurality of columns comprises a different set of solar cells of the plurality of solar cells, wherein the solar cells of each set of solar cells of the plurality of columns are arranged into a plurality of solar cell segments electrically coupled in series from the first end region of the solar cell array to the second end region of the solar cell array, wherein each solar cell segment of the plurality of solar cell segments comprises three or less solar cells of the plurality of solar cells electrically coupled in parallel, wherein the plurality of columns are electrically coupled to each other in series.

21. The system of any of claims 1-20, wherein the solar receiver comprises: one or more electrically-isolated conductors coupled to the second surface of the substrate; and a cooler defining one or more electrically-isolated conductors, each electrically coupled to a corresponding conductor of the one or more electrically-isolated conductors coupled to the second surface of the substrate.

Description:
SOLAR RECEIVER WITH SOLAR CELL ARRAY

[0001] The present application claims the benefit of United States Provisional Patent

Application Serial No. 62/345,457, filed June 3, 2016, the disclosure of which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.

[0002] The present disclosure relates generally to solar collector systems, and in particular, solar receivers including solar cells that provide solar power.

[0003] Generally, solar collector systems may include an adjustable solar reflector that is configured to direct solar radiation to the solar cells of a solar receiver. In operation, the solar receiver may convert the received, impinging solar radiation into electricity and/or thermal energy.

SUMMARY

[0004] One exemplary system may include a solar receiver comprising a substrate defining a first surface and a second surface opposite the first surface and a solar cell array extending from a first end region to a second end region. The solar cell array may comprise a plurality of solar cells coupled to the first surface of the substrate. Further, the solar cell array may be arranged into a plurality of columns extending parallel to each other from the first end region to the second end region. Each column of the plurality of columns may comprise a different set of solar cells of the plurality of solar cells electrically coupled in series from the first end region to the second end region. The plurality of columns may also be electrically coupled to each other in series. The plurality of columns may comprise more than two columns.

[0005] Another exemplary system may include a system comprising a solar receiver comprising a substrate defining a first surface and a second surface opposite the first surface, one or more electronic components coupled to the first surface of the substrate, a solar cell array extending from a first end region to a second end region, and at least one pair of second surface conductors coupled to the second surface of the substrate. The solar cell array may comprise a plurality of solar cells coupled to the first surface of the substrate. Further, the solar cell array may be arranged into a plurality of columns extending parallel to each other from the first end region to the second end region. Each column of the plurality of columns may comprise a different set of solar cells of the plurality of solar cells electrically coupled in series from the first end region to the second end region. The plurality of columns may also be electrically coupled to each other in series. Each pair of the at least one pair of second surface conductors may electrically couple at least one solar cell of the plurality of solar cells to the one or more electronic components.

[0006] A further exemplary system may include a solar receiver comprising a substrate defining a first surface and a second surface opposite the first surface, a plurality of bypass diodes coupled to the first surface of the substrate, and a solar cell array extending from a first end region to a second end region. The solar cell array may comprise a plurality of solar cells coupled to the first surface of the substrate. Further, the solar cell array may be arranged into a plurality of columns extending parallel to each other from the first end region to the second end region. Each column of the plurality of columns may comprise a different set of solar cells of the plurality of solar cells electrically coupled in series from the first end region to the second end region. The plurality of columns may be electrically coupled to each other in series. Further, the plurality of columns may define at least two exterior columns and at least one interior column between the at least two exterior columns. Furthermore, at least one solar cell of the set of solar cells of the one or more interior columns may be electrically coupled to at least one bypass diode of the plurality of bypass diodes. At least one solar cell of the set of solar cells of the one or more interior columns may not be electrically coupled to any of the plurality of bypass diodes.

[0007] Yet another exemplary system may include a solar array comprising a plurality of solar cells arranged into a plurality of columns extending parallel to each other from a first end region to a second end region. Each column of the plurality of columns may comprise a different set of solar cells of the plurality of solar cells. The solar cells of each set of solar cells of the plurality of columns may be arranged into a plurality of solar cell segments electrically coupled in series from the first end region of the solar cell array to the second end region of the solar cell array. Each solar cell segment of the plurality of solar cell segments may comprise three or less solar cells of the plurality of solar cells electrically coupled in parallel. The plurality of columns may be electrically coupled to each other in series. [0008] In one or more embodiments, the solar receiver may comprise a plurality of bypass diodes coupled to the first surface of the substrate. Each bypass diode of the plurality of bypass diodes may be electrically coupled to one or more solar cells of the plurality of solar cells.

[0009] In one or more embodiments, the solar receiver may comprise at least one pair of second surface conductors coupled to the second surface of the substrate. Each pair of the at least one pair of second surface conductors may electrically couple at least one solar cell of the plurality of solar cells to a different bypass diode of the plurality of bypass diodes.

[0010] In one or more embodiments, the plurality of columns may define at least two exterior columns and at least one interior column between the at least two exterior columns. A pair of the at least one pair of second surface conductors may electrically couple at least one solar cell of the set of solar cells of the at least one interior column to a bypass diode of the plurality of bypass diodes. At least one solar cell of the set of solar cells of the at least one interior column may not be electrically coupled to any of the plurality of bypass diodes.

[0011] In one or more embodiments, the one or more electronic components may comprise one or more bypass diodes.

[0012] In one or more embodiments, the one or more electronic components may comprise a power component monitor.

[0013] In one or more embodiments, the plurality of columns defines at least two exterior columns and at least one interior column between the at least two exterior columns. Each pair of the at least one pair of second surface conductors electrically may couple at least one solar cell of the set of solar cells of the at least one interior column to at least one of the electronic components.

[0014] In one or more embodiments, at least one solar cell of the set of solar cells of the at least one interior column may not be electrically coupled to any of the one or more electronic components.

[0015] In one or more embodiments, the solar receiver may comprise a first conductive set of vias extending from the first surface to the second surface electrically coupling the at least one solar cell to the at least one pair of second surface conductors. Further, the solar receiver may comprise a second of conductive set of vias extending from the first surface to the second surface electrically coupling the one or more electronic components to the at least one pair of second surface conductors.

[0016] In one or more embodiments, the solar receiver may comprise a plurality of first surface conductors coupled to the first surface of the substrate electrically coupling the set of solar cells of the two exterior columns to the plurality of electronic components.

[0017] In one or more embodiments, the at least one interior column may comprise two or more interior columns.

[0018] In one or more embodiments, at least one bypass diode of the plurality of bypass diodes may be electrically coupled to at least one solar cell of the sets of solar cells of the at least two exterior columns.

[0019] In one or more embodiments, the at least one solar cell of the set of solar cells of the at least one interior column electrically coupled to the at least one bypass diode of the plurality of bypass diodes may comprise a first interior solar cell located closest to the first end region of the solar cell array than the remainder of the solar cells of the set of solar cells of the at least one interior column and may comprise a second interior solar cell located closest to the second end region of the solar cell array than the remainder of the solar cells of the set of solar cells of the at least one interior column.

[0020] In one or more embodiments, the plurality of columns may consist essentially of four columns.

[0021] In one or more embodiments, the solar cells of each set of solar cells of the plurality of columns are arranged into a plurality of solar cell segments electrically coupled in series from the first end region of the solar cell array to the second end region of the solar cell array. Each solar cell segment of the plurality of solar cell segments may comprise two or more solar cells of the plurality of solar cells electrically coupled in parallel.

[0022] In one or more embodiments, each solar cell segment of the plurality of solar cell segments may comprise three or less solar cells of the plurality of solar cells electrically coupled in parallel.

[0023] In one or more embodiments, the system may comprise a reflector configured to reflect light onto the solar cell array of the solar receiver. The system may further comprise a support structure coupled to the reflector and the receiver configured to position and to align the solar receiver with the reflector.

[0024] In one or more embodiments, the system may comprise one or more electrically- isolated conductors coupled to the second surface of the substrate and a cooler defining one or more electrically-isolated conductors, each electrically coupled to a corresponding conductor of the one or more electrically-isolated conductors coupled to the second surface of the substrate.

[0025] The above summary is not intended to describe each embodiment or every implementation of the present disclosure. A more complete understanding will become apparent and appreciated by referring to the following detailed description and claims taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0026] FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an exemplary solar collector system including a solar reflector and a solar receiver.

[0027] FIG. 2 is an illustration of the solar collector system of FIG. 1 in an exemplary environment.

[0028] FIG. 3 is a perspective view of an assembled, exemplary solar receiver including a circuit board.

[0029] FIG. 4 is an exploded, perspective view of the solar receiver of FIG. 3 including an exemplary circuit board.

[0030] FIG. 5 is an exploded, perspective view of the exemplary circuit board of FIG. 4.

[0031] FIG. 6 is a schematic representation of an exemplary circuit for the exemplary circuit board of FIG. 4.

[0032] FIG. 7 is a diagrammatic plan view of the exemplary circuit board of FIG. 5 including the exemplary circuit of FIG. 6 and showing a first surface.

[0033] FIG. 8 is another diagrammatic plan view of the circuit board of FIG. 5 showing a first surface. [0034] FIG. 9 is yet another diagrammatic plan view of the circuit board of FIG. 5 showing a second surface opposite the first surface.

[0035] FIG. 10 is a schematic representation of the circuit board of FIG. 7 showing an illustrative path for current flow through various components of the circuit board.

[0036] FIG. 11 is a diagrammatic plan view of another exemplary circuit board for a solar receiver.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF EXEMPLARY EMBODIMENTS

[0037] In the following detailed description of illustrative embodiments, reference is made to the accompanying figures of the drawing which form a part hereof, and in which are shown, by way of illustration, specific embodiments which may be practiced. It is to be understood that other embodiments may be utilized and structural changes may be made without departing from (e.g., still falling within) the scope of the disclosure presented hereby.

[0038] Exemplary embodiments shall be described with reference to Figures 1-11. It will be apparent to one skilled in the art that elements (e.g., apparatus, structures, parts, portions, regions, configurations, functionalities, method steps, materials, etc.) from one embodiment may be used in combination with elements of the other embodiments, and that the possible embodiments of such apparatus and systems using combinations of features set forth herein is not limited to the specific embodiments shown in the figures and/or described herein. Further, it will be recognized that the embodiments described herein may include many elements that are not necessarily shown to scale. Still further, it will be recognized that the size and shape of various elements herein may be modified but still fall within the scope of the present disclosure, although certain one or more shapes and/or sizes, or types of elements, may be advantageous over others.

[0039] Exemplary systems and apparatus for use in capturing solar energy are described herein. The exemplary systems and apparatus may include a solar reflector configured to reflect solar radiation (e.g., solar rays, sunlight, solar energy, etc.) towards a solar receiver. The solar receiver may include photovoltaic cells and other electrical components, or parts, such as, e.g., bypass diodes, power monitors, bond wires, other electrical or electronic parts, mechanical parts, etc. The solar receiver may also include materials to protect the photovoltaic cells and other components. For example, the solar receiver may include cover glass that is positioned to cover the photovoltaic cells and other components.

[0040] FIGs. 1 and 2 show an exemplary solar collector system 100 including a solar reflector 110 for directing solar energy and a solar receiver 120 for absorbing solar energy. The system 100 may produce usable electricity and/or thermal energy from the solar energy.

[0041] The solar reflector 110 may be positioned on a structure such that the solar reflector

110 is spaced away from a mounting surface, such as the ground. The solar reflector 110 may include a solar reflector surface 112 configured to reflect solar energy onto the solar receiver 120. For example, the solar reflector surface 112 may face the solar receiver 120 and be aligned with the solar receiver 120 such that solar energy (e.g., solar radiation) impinging on the solar reflector surface 112 is directed to the solar receiver 120 for absorbing a substantial amount of the solar energy. In some embodiments, the solar reflector 110 concentrates the solar energy reflected from the solar reflector surface 112 to a relatively smaller absorptive surface of the solar receiver 120.

[0042] The solar collector system 100 may also include a solar receiver support 102 that couples the solar reflector 110 to the solar receiver 120, positions the solar receiver 120 at a desired distance from the solar reflector 110, and aligns the solar reflector and receiver 110, 120 to facilitate absorption of an optimal amount of solar energy. For example, the solar receiver support 102 may be coupled to the solar reflector 110 proximate a solar receiver support base 103 of the solar receiver support 102. In one or more embodiments, no intermediate optics may be interposed between the solar reflector surface 112 and the solar receiver 120.

[0043] The solar collector system 100 may move in a variety of different ways to modulate the amount of solar radiation received by the solar receiver 120 and facilitate the absorption of an optimal amount of solar energy. For example, the solar collector system 100 may include a dual axis solar tracking apparatus to configure the solar reflector 110 in a position to receive an optimal amount of solar radiation at any given time, particularly for a solar radiation source (e.g., sun) that moves over time. Specifically, the dual axis solar tracking apparatus may include a rotational actuator 106 (e.g., to rotate about a rotational axis) and a linear actuator 104 (e.g., to drive along an elevation axis). The rotational actuator 106 may be configured to rotate the solar reflector 110 about a support (e.g., about the rotational axis) and the linear actuator 104 may tilt the solar reflector 110 at different angles relative to the ground surface. Additionally, the solar collector system 100 may include a solar receiver positioner 108 configured to move and position the solar receiver 120 relative to the solar reflector 110. For example, the solar receiver positioner 108 may position the solar receiver 120 such that the solar receiver 120 is aligned with solar radiation reflecting off of, or from, the solar reflector 110. More specifically, the solar receiver positioner 108 may be configured to move the solar receiver 120 closer to or further away from the solar reflector 110 along an axis extending between the solar receiver 120 and the solar reflector 110. Also, more specifically, the solar positioner 108 may be configured to move the solar receiver 120 in a direction perpendicular to the axis extending between the solar receiver 120 and the solar reflector 110.

[0044] Furthermore, the solar collector system 100 may include one or more components similar to those that described in U.S. Pat. App. Pub. No. 2010/0252091 Al entitled "Solar Electricity Generation System," U.S. Pat. App. Pub. No. 2012/0118351 Al entitled "Solar Electricity Generation System," U.S. Pat. App. Pub. No. 2014/0238465 Al entitled "CPV Tracking using Partial Cell Voltages," and PCT App. No. PCT/US2014/039414 entitled "Systems and Methods for Power Generation," each of which is incorporated herein by reference in their entireties.

[0045] In one or more embodiments, the solar receiver 120 may include a solar energy-to- electricity converter configured to convert solar energy reflected to the solar receiver 120 into usable electricity. For example, the solar receiver 120 may include a grid array (e.g., dense grid array) of solar cells (e.g., photovoltaic cells) to absorb solar energy for producing an electric current. The reflector 110 may be configured to reflect light onto the grid array of the solar receiver 120. The grid array may transfer electrical power from the solar receiver 120 using power terminals connected to an electrical grid or power storage unit, for example, which may be remote from the system 100. The electrical power may be used to power residential homes, commercial buildings, backup power supplies, etc.

[0046] Each solar cell in the grid array of solar receiver 120 may not receive the same amount of solar energy. In some cases, the concentrated solar energy profile 125 is substantially non-uniform due to the dispersion of light reflected from the solar reflector 110. For example, the solar cells located proximate, near, or on the perimeter of the grid array may be less illuminated by the concentrated solar energy than the solar cells located proximate, near, or toward the center of the grid array. In various cases, the environment of the system 100 can influence the direction of the solar energy. For example, FIG. 2 depicts the environmental effect of wind upon the system 100, which may disturb the alignment of the solar reflector 1 10 with the solar receiver 120, thereby moving the concentrated solar energy profile 125 off-center from the grid array. As shown, some cells proximate, adjacent to, or near the perimeter of the grid array are not optimally illuminated. In either case, less than an optimal or maximal amount of concentrated solar energy may be absorbable by the solar receiver 120 for electrical power generation, which may reduce the electrical power generation of the system 100 from a desired output.

[0047] Furthermore, the non-uniform incidence of solar energy on the grid array of the solar receiver 120 may also reduce electrical power generation due to the electrical arrangement of the solar cells. For example, a plurality of solar cells in the grid array may be electrically coupled in a series circuit. The solar cell absorbing the least amount of solar energy produces a lower current due to the semi-conductive properties of the solar cell. As such, the solar cell producing the lowest current may limit the current flow of the entire series circuit (e.g., due to the nature of a series circuit). Thus, when one solar cell receives less solar energy, the plurality of solar cells of the grid array, as a whole, may produce less electrical current, thereby reducing electrical power generation below an optimal amount.

[0048] In many embodiments, one or two solar collector systems 100 optimally generate an amount of electrical power in the form of direct current (DC) and in a range from about 2 to about 5 kilowatts (kW), for example, based on a standard-size solar collector system 100 having a standard-size grid array of solar cells and may also generate from about 5 to about 1 1 kW of thermal energy. The amount of electrical power in DC form may be suitable for many applications. However, in other applications, the amount of electrical power may be suitable (e.g., wattage), but the form of electrical power may not be suitable. For example, the electrical power from one or more solar collector systems 100 may be converted into an alternating current (AC) form, which may be useful to power an electrical grid for a small building, for example. As another example, the electrical power from one or more solar collector systems 100 may be converted to a different DC voltage and amperage combination, which may be useful to charge storage batteries, for example. Commercially-available inverters and converters in the 2 kW to 5 kW range are typically designed to handle 10 to 20 amps (A) of current. However, some conventional solar collector systems capable of generating electrical power from about 2 kW to about 5 kW produce current beyond the capabilities of these commercially-available inverters and converters, for example, on the order of 25 to 55 amps. Developing or purchasing a specialized inverter or converter - as well as a solar energy collector system capable of handling such high currents - may be prohibitively expensive for many applications.

[0049] In one or more embodiments, the solar receiver 120 may include a heat exchanger that is thermally coupled to the solar receiver 120. The heat exchanger may be configured as a cooler to cool the solar receiver 120 (e.g., to keep the solar receiver 120 within a safe operating temperature), while absorbing the concentrated solar energy from the reflector 110. The heat exchanger may directly or indirectly convert the solar energy into usable thermal energy. For example, water may be circulated through the heat exchanger using pipes (e.g., extending from the solar receiver 120 to the solar receiver support base 103) fluidly coupled to both a water supply and a heated water storage tank, either of which may be remote from the system 100. As water passes through, the heat exchanger may transfer thermal energy into the water, which may be stored in the heated water storage tank for various uses, such as domestic hot water, air conditioning and/or heating, and other suitable applications. In one or more embodiments, electrical and/or mechanical components may be coupled (e.g., bonded) to a primary surface of the heat exchanger. In some embodiments, the entire primary surface of the heat exchanger is used to transfer heat from the solar receiver 120 to produce a desired amount of energy and/or to meet cooling requirements.

[0050] Due to the size constraints of the solar reflector 110, solar receiver 120, and the system 100 overall, as well as the aforementioned effects of non-uniform solar energy absorption and thermal energy generation and cooling, the solar receiver 120 may include an electronic circuit layout including compact bypass circuits to produce a desired amount of electrical and thermal power, as well as sufficient cooling to the solar receiver 120 while absorbing concentrated solar energy.

[0051] In FIGs. 3 and 4, an exemplary solar receiver 120 is shown in more detail from isometric assembled and exploded views, respectively. The solar receiver 120 may include a frame 130, a backplate 138, a circuit board 140, a cooler 145 for thermal energy transfer and/or solar-to- thermal energy conversion, and a solar cell array 160 of solar cells 200 for solar-to-electrical energy conversion and/or solar-to-thermal energy conversion. In various embodiments, a thermal pad (not shown) may be coupled between the frame 130 and the cooler 145 to promote the transfer of thermal energy away from the frame 130 and into the cooler 145. In the illustrated embodiment, the exemplary circuit board 140 is coupled to the exemplary cooler 145 and both are disposed between the exemplary frame 130 and the exemplary backplate 138.

[0052] The frame 130 may define an exposed surface 132, a bevel 134, and a window 136

(e.g., opening). The window 136 may be configured to allow solar energy to pass therethrough to impinge on the solar cells 200. The exposed surface 132 may be configured to lie in a plane substantially parallel to a plane within which the circuit board 140 lies.

[0053] In some cases, the exposed surface 132 of the frame 130 may receive some light reflected from the reflector 110. Heat generated by the frame 130 absorbing such reflected light may be transmitted to other components of the solar receiver 120, such as the backplate 138, cooler 145, etc, or elsewhere in the system 100. In various embodiments, the frame 130 may be configured to preferentially transmit the received heat, or thermal energy, to components other than the circuit board 140 (e.g., bypassing the circuit board), which may divert most of the received heat away from the circuit board 140 or components coupled thereto, such as solar cells 200, for example.

[0054] In various embodiments, the bevel 134 extends around at least some, or all, of the window 136. In some cases, the bevel 134 is configured to reflect at least some light impinging thereon toward the window 136 and the solar cells 200. The bevel 134 may be described as extending between the exposed surface 132 and the window 136.

[0055] The cooler 145 may define a primary surface including conductors 147 configured to contact the circuit board 140. The conductors 147 may be described as a conductor layer, which may have an illustrative thickness in a range from about 0.1 millimeters to about 0.5 millimeters, or about 0.2 millimeters, for example. For example, thermal energy may be transferred to the conductors 147 from the circuit board 140 and into other parts of the cooler 145. Such thermal energy may be absorbed into a coolant, for example, that flows through the cooler 145 to facilitate the thermal transfer away from the solar receiver 120. The conductors 147 may comprise thermally and/or electrically conductive material. In cases wherein the conductors 147 are electrical conductors, the cooler 145 may include a ceramic or otherwise dielectric layer coupled to the conductors 147 to mitigate the flow of electricity into other portions of the cooler 145, such as the coolant. [0056] In many embodiments, the conductors 147 comprise one or more electrically- isolated conductors. Each conductor 147 is electrically isolated from another conductor 147. In some embodiments, the one or more electrically-isolated conductors 147 form a pattern that mirrors the pattern of the one or more electrically-isolated conductors on a second surface, or rear, of the circuit board 140. Conductors of the circuit board 140, which may form part of an electrical or electronic circuit, may be coupled to (e.g., be in contact with) the conductors 147 with little risk of shorting the circuit. For example, each of the one or more conductors 147 may be electrically coupled to a different corresponding conductor of the circuit board 140 without electrically coupling different "nodes" of the circuit. In various embodiments, the conductors 147 are electrically isolated from any coolant flowing through the cooler 145.

[0057] The solar receiver 120 may include a variety of components that may capture solar radiation from the solar reflector 110 for converting solar radiation into electricity and/or thermal energy. For example, as described herein, the solar receiver 120 may include a plurality of photovoltaic or solar cells 200 arranged in a solar cell array 160 (only a few of the photovoltaic cells are labeled in FIG. 3) for absorbing and converting solar energy and into electricity and/or thermal energy. In other words, the exemplary solar cell array 160 may include a plurality of solar cells 200. The solar cells 124 may define various shapes and sizes and may be arranged, grouped, positioned, or electronically or electrically coupled within the solar cell array 160 as described herein in more detail. For example, solar cells 124 may have different sizes and/or shapes depending on, for example, being located proximate, near, or in an interior column versus exterior column or a perimeter region versus an interior region, as well as being bypassed versus not bypassed (e.g., see FIGS. 8 and 11).

[0058] The solar receiver 120 may include one or more components (e.g., diodes, stops, spacers, pins, plugs, conductors, coolers, etc.) coupled or mounted (e.g., bonded, attached, etc.) on the circuit board 140. In at least some embodiments, various components are configured to absorb and convert solar energy into thermal energy but not electricity, such as electrical conductors on the first surface or the frame 130, for example.

[0059] The frame 130 may be positioned relative to the circuit board 140 such that at least a portion of the circuit board is "covered" and at least portion of the circuit board 140 is not "covered" and exposed through the window 136. In various embodiments, the frame 130 may be configured to cover one or more areas or regions located proximate, near, or over a perimeter area or region of the circuit board 140 so as to cover one or more components (e.g., electronic components) to block sunlight from impinging thereupon. Various components, which may be susceptible to excess heat, may be protected from overheating, for example. In the illustrated embodiment, the frame 130 covers at least two portions of the circuit board 140, each portion including a set of electronic components. Although, any number of covered portions is contemplated. In some embodiments, the frame 130 may cover only one portion of the circuit board. In other embodiments, the frame 130 may cover three portions of the circuit board, four portions of the circuit board, five portions of the circuit board, etc.

[0060] In various embodiments, exemplary electronic components coupled to the circuit board may include diodes. In the illustrated embodiment, the diodes are configured to function as bypass diodes 165. In additional illustrative embodiments, the electronic components comprise a power component monitor, which may monitor electrical power (e.g., wattage, voltage, amperage, etc) or thermal power (e.g., temperature, cooling or heating rate, thermal expansion, etc).

[0061] In FIG. 5, the exemplary circuit board 140 including solar cells 200 and bypass diodes 165 is shown in a more detailed exploded view. In various embodiments, the circuit board 140 may be described as a printed circuit board. The circuit board 140 may include a substrate 150 defining a first surface 152 (e.g., first substrate surface or first circuit board surface) and a second surface 154 (e.g., second substrate or second circuit board surface), first conductors 156 (e.g., first surface conductors), second conductors 158 (e.g., second surface conductors), solar cells 200 arranged in a solar cell array 160, and electronic components 165 comprising bypass diodes. Specifically, the circuit board 140 may be described as comprising layers, such as a substrate layer 150 between a first conductor layer 156 and a second conductor layer 158 or the first conductor layer 156 between a solar cell layer 160, 200 and a substrate layer 150. The exemplary circuit board 140 is configured to be at least partially exposed to concentrated solar energy directed at the first surface 152, which is absorbed, for example, by the solar cells 200 and/or the first conductors 156.

[0062] The first surface 152 and the second surface 154 of the substrate 150 may be opposing surfaces (e.g., facing away from each other). The substrate 150 may be described as the non-conducting portion of the circuit board 140, for example, which may comprise fiberglass, plastic, ceramic, or other non-conductive materials. Further, one or more conductive components may be coupled to the substrate (e.g., on the first surface 152, on the second surface 154, etc.) and/or therein (e.g., between the first and second surfaces, such as vias, etc.). These conductive components may comprise (e.g., be formed of) one or more suitable electrically conductive materials such as, e.g., copper, Ni/Au plating, etc. In at least one embodiment, the conductive components include copper plated in Ni/Au.

[0063] The first and second conductors 156, 158 may be described as conductive layers coupled to the first and second surfaces 152, 154, respectively. The first and second conductors 156, 158 may be electrically conductive, thermally conductive, or both. When the illustrated embodiment is assembled, the first conductors 156 are coupled to the first surface 152 of the substrate 150 and the second conductors 158 are coupled to the second surface 154. The conductors 156, 158 may be made of any suitable conductive material, such as copper or Ni/Au, for example.

[0064] As shown, both the first and second conductors 156, 158 comprise one or more electrically-isolated regions. In other words, a region of conductors is electrically-isolated from other regions of conductors. In many embodiments, a solar cell 200 and/or a bypass diode 165 is coupled to each electrically-isolated region.

[0065] The surface area of each surface 152, 154 of the substrate 150 may be partially or completely covered by the first and second conductors 156, 158, which may form, or define, one or more circuits of the circuit board 140, as will be described further herein. In the illustrated embodiment, the first and second conductors 156, 158 cover almost the same surface area as the substrate 150, for example, which may facilitate the conduction of electrical and thermal energy thereabout. In other words, the spaces on surface 152, 154 of the substrate 150 between and defining individual conductors may comprise less than 10%, less than 5%, or less than 1% of the overall surface area of the substrate or either surface of the substrate.

[0066] The solar cells 200 may be coupled to the first or second surface 152, 154 of the substrate 150. In many embodiments, when assembled, the solar cells 200 are coupled to the first surface 152 of the substrate 150 and not the second surface 154. In various embodiments, the solar cells 200 may be at least partially coupled to the substrate 150 through the first conductors 156. The solar cells 200 may also be electrically coupled to the first conductors 156, for example, to form a circuit. In various embodiments, a circuit formed with the solar cells 200, the first conductors 156, and optionally the second conductors 158, conducts current generated from the solar cells 200 through the first conductors 156 to other components of the circuit board 140.

[0067] Furthermore, bypass diodes 165 may be coupled to the substrate 150 and optionally through the first conductors 156. In many embodiments, when assembled, the bypass diodes 165 are coupled to the first surface 152 of the substrate 150. The bypass diodes 165 may be electrically coupled to the first conductors 156 and/or the solar cells 200 (e.g., the adjacent solar cell 200 in a series circuit or another solar cell 200 coupled in parallel). In various illustrative embodiments, each bypass diode 165 is electrically coupled in parallel to one or more solar cells 200. Current generated from one solar cell 200 may flow through the bypass diodes 165, for example, instead of flowing through another solar cell 200. In this manner, the bypass diodes 165 may be described as an electronic or electric bypass for one or more solar cells 200.

[0068] In FIG. 6, an exemplary circuit 170 for use in, or on, an exemplary circuit board

(e.g., 140) is shown in a schematic representation (e.g., as a circuit diagram). The exemplary circuit 170 may be used to guide the electrical coupling of various components in a circuit board of a solar receiver, such as exemplary circuit board 140 (FIG. 5) of exemplary solar receiver 120 (FIGs. 1-4). The circuit 170 may provide a pathway to access current generated at, or by, one or more components in the circuit.

[0069] In many embodiments, the circuit 170 comprises one or more components, such as electrical or electronic components, capable of conducting electricity from a first terminal 180 to a second terminal 182 at the ends of the circuit 170 (represented by circles). Depending on the components forming the circuit 170, the circuit may be described as an electrical circuit or an electronic circuit. The terminals 180, 182 may define a positive terminal (e.g., 182) and a negative terminal (e.g., 180). Other components may be coupled to the terminals 180, 182 to complete a circuit loop, which may allow current to flow through the circuit 170. In this manner, current generated from a solar cell 200 may be accessed and utilized.

[0070] In many embodiments, the circuit 170 is implemented as a circuit board, such as exemplary circuit board 140. Various components of the circuit 170 may be electrically coupled through one or more conductors 181. In the schematic representation, some conductors 181 are illustrated as lines, which may also be described as nodes of the circuit 170. The conductors may be described as components of the circuit 170 with low resistivity and high conductivity for a solar collector system. Conductors may comprise surface conductors, such as first or second conductors 156, 158 shown in FIG. 5. Conductors may also comprise vias or even the terminals 180, 182 themselves.

[0071] In many embodiments, the solar cell array 160 may comprise a plurality of solar cells 200 electrically coupled in series between the terminals 180, 182. As shown in the schematic representation, only some solar cells of a plurality of solar cells 200 are identified by reference line but all solar cells 200 share the same graphic representation. In some embodiments, the solar cell array 160 may be coupled (e.g., directly or indirectly) to each terminal 180, 182 by one or more conductors (shown as lines 181 in the schematic representation).

[0072] The solar cells 200 may be described or modeled as a photo-diode, defining a photocurrent direction into a cathode and out of an anode. As indicated in the schematic representation, the solar cells 200 have the same photocurrent direction from the first terminal 180 to the second terminal 182, which may facilitate the flow of current in a single direction when in use.

[0073] An output voltage (VOUT) from the cathode to anode may also be defined by each solar cell 200. The output voltage may depend on the amount of solar radiation absorbed by the solar cell 200 and the load coupled to the solar cell. For example, the output voltage may be inversely proportional to the load for a certain amount of solar radiation. When a solar cell 200 absorbs solar radiation but no load is connected, the solar cell may define VOUT as an open-circuit voltage (Voc). Each solar cell 200 may have the same or different Voc. In some embodiments, each solar cell 200 has the same Voc. In one embodiment, each solar cell 200 has a Voc of about 3.2 VDC.

[0074] Each solar cell 200 may also be described as defining a maximum deliverable current (IMAX). The maximum current may depend on the solar radiation absorbed by each solar cell 200. For example, IMAX may be proportional to the solar radiation absorbed. Each solar cell may be described as having an IMAX at full (e.g., optimal or maximal) solar radiation absorption. In some illustrative embodiments, each solar cell 200 may have an IMAX of no less than about 5 amps, no less than about 8 amps, or no less than about 9 amps at full solar radiation absorption. In various illustrative embodiments, each solar cell 200 has an IMAX of no greater than about 15 amps, no greater than about 1 1 amps, or no greater than about 10 amps at full solar radiation absorption. In at least some illustrative embodiments, each solar cell 200 may have an IMAX in a range from about 9 amps to about 10 amps (inclusive) at full solar radiation absorption. In at least one illustrative embodiment, each solar cell 200 may have an IMAX of about 9.5 amps at full solar radiation absorption. In further illustrative embodiments, the solar cells 200 may multiple IMAX at full solar radiation absorption (e.g., depending on the size or photovoltaic properties of the solar cell 200).

[0075] In some cases, a first solar cell of the solar cells 200 may have an ΙΜΑΧ,Ι less than the maximum current of a second solar cell IMAX,2 of the solar cells 200. In the first and second solar cells are electrically coupled in series, the current through both solar cells may be limited to the lesser ΙΜΑΧ,Ι. TO improve the overall current throughput, the circuit 170 may include one or more bypass circuits to allow current to flow past such one or more solar cells 200, for example, to "bypass" the maximum current of a solar cell receiving a less than desirable amount of solar radiation. A solar cell 200 coupled to a bypass circuit may be described as a bypassed solar cell 202 of the circuit 170. A solar cell 200 not coupled to a bypass circuit may be described as a non- bypassed solar cell 204.

[0076] An exemplary bypass circuit may comprise one or more bypass diodes 165 or other electronic components, as well as conductors to electrically couple the one or more bypass diodes 165 to at least one solar cell 200 of the solar cell array 160. In many embodiments, each bypass diode 165 is electrically coupled in parallel to one or more solar cells 200. For example, in some embodiments, each bypass diode 165 may be electrically coupled in parallel to two or more solar cells 200 electrically coupled in parallel. Further, for example, in some embodiments (not shown), each bypass diode 165 may be electrically coupled in parallel to two or more solar cells 200 electrically coupled in series. In various embodiments, two or more bypass diodes 165 are electrically coupled in parallel. In some embodiments, two or more bypass diodes 165 are electrically coupled in series.

[0077] A bypass diode 165 may be described as defining a forward-bias direction from a cathode to an anode. The bypass diodes 165 may also define a forward-bias voltage from the cathode to anode, above which current can flow through the bypass diode in the forward-bias direction. In many embodiments, a bypass circuit is coupled in parallel to one or more solar cells 200 with the forward-bias direction of any bypass diodes 165 matching the photocurrent direction of the solar cells 200. In other words, the cathode of the solar cell 200 may be coupled to the anode of the bypass diode 165. Current may be diverted through either the solar cell 200 (up to IMAX) or the bypass diode 165 when forward-biased up to the maximum current rating of the diode. In the schematic representation, each of the bypass diodes 165 has the same forward-bias direction from the first terminal 180 to the second terminal 182, which may facilitate the flow of current in a single direction.

[0078] Each bypass diode 165 may also define a maximum current rating, or be current rated to a maximum current, before the effectiveness of the bypass diode 165 is compromised (e.g., by damaging the structure of the diode). In many illustrative embodiments, each bypass diode 165 may be current rated to handle the current generated from one or more solar cells 200 electrically coupled in parallel. In various illustrative embodiments, each bypass diode 165 may be current rated to at least the current generated from about three solar cells 200, about two solar cells 200, or about one solar cell 200. In at least some illustrative embodiments, each bypass diode 165 may be current rated to at least about 30 amps, about 25 amps, about 22 amps, about 19 amps, or about 9.5 amps. In at least one illustrative embodiment, each bypass diode 165 may be current rated at least to about 19 amps.

[0079] In one use of an exemplary bypass circuit, a bypass diode 165 may be coupled to bypass the aforementioned first solar cell absorbing less solar radiation than the second solar cell. In particular, the anode of the bypass diode may be coupled to the cathode of the first solar cell and the anode of the second solar cell at a first node. The voltage at the first node may build up and eventually exceed the forward-bias voltage of the bypass diode, allowing current from the second solar cell to flow into the bypass diode rather than being limited by the IMAX of the first solar cell.

[0080] The solar cells 200 may also be described as being arranged into a plurality of columns. In particular, the plurality of solar cells 200 in the solar cell array 160 may be arranged into or define a plurality of columns, such as columns 190, 191, 192, 193. Each column 190 through 193 may include a different set of solar cells 200 electrically coupled in series. Additionally, one or more solar cells 200 within each column may be electrically coupled in parallel. For example, each solar cell 200 within a column may be electrically coupled in parallel to another solar cell. Each column 190 through 193 may be electrically coupled in series to one or more columns 190 through 193. For example, column 190 is coupled to column 191 in series, column 191 is coupled to column 192 in series, and column 193 may be coupled to column 192 in series, such that the columns 190 through 193 are electrically coupled in series (e.g., directly or indirectly to form a single series circuit).

[0081] The solar cells 200 may be arranged into any number of columns. As shown, the exemplary circuit 170 includes four columns 190, 191, 192, 193. In other embodiments, the solar cells 200 may define three columns, five columns, six columns, or more, for example. The columns 190 through 193 may be further described as a series of columns from one side end to another side end (e.g., left to right). The plurality of columns may also define one or more exterior columns and one or more interior columns. In the illustrated embodiment, the columns 190, 193 may be described as exterior columns, and the columns 191, 192 may be described interior columns. Generally, interior columns may be defined as being coupled between two other columns and/or an exterior column may be defined as being coupled to only one column (e.g., and a terminal 180, 182). In some embodiments, the circuit 170 includes two exterior columns. In various embodiments, the circuit 170 includes at least one interior column. In one embodiment, the circuit 170 includes two interior columns. In other embodiments, the circuit 170 includes three interior columns, four interior columns, five interior columns, or more, for example.

[0082] The solar cells 200 may also be arranged into cell segments 195 (e.g., one cell segment is outlined with a dashed line in FIGs. 6 and 7). In many embodiments, a plurality of cell segments 195 may be defined by the circuit 170 in the solar cell array 160. In various embodiments, each cell segment 195 comprises two or more solar cells 200. In at least some embodiments, each cell segment 195 includes three or less solar cells 200. Furthermore, each column may also be described as including a plurality of cell segments 195 electrically coupled in series. In the illustrated embodiment, none of the cell segments 195 are electrically coupled in parallel to any other cell segment 195. In one embodiment, each cell segment 195 has an open-circuit voltage equal to a single solar cell 200 in the segment. In various embodiments, each cell segment 195 has an IMAX equal to the sum of the IMAX of the plurality of solar cells 200 in the segment. In a similar manner as described with respect to individual solar cells 200, each cell segment 195 may be bypassed by a bypass circuit including a bypass diode 165 electrically coupled in parallel to the cell segment 194. Each cell segment 194 may also be non-bypassed. [0083] In some conventional 2 kW to 5 kW systems, bypass diodes are coupled to all solar cells in a solar cell array to mitigate variances in IMAX for solar cells and increase current throughput. Further, bypass diodes are disposable only in the two portions of the circuit board that are covered by the frame of the solar receiver, which may be on opposing ends of the circuit board. In such systems, the solar cells may be described as being arranged into two columns of cell segments, each segment comprising four solar cells. Also, each solar cell may be a bypassed solar cell coupled to one or more bypass diodes. The current generated by cell segments having four solar cells (e.g., about 38 amps) may require multiple bypass diodes to bypass each cell segment and large conductors between the cell segments and the bypass diodes. The multiple bypass diodes and conductors may utilize valuable space in the solar receiver and may complicate/add cost to manufacturing.

[0084] The illustrated embodiment of the circuit 170 is configured to produce electrical power in the 2 kW to 5 kW range at a lower current (e.g., about 19 amps) and higher voltage (e.g., about 360 to 400 volts) than at least some conventional systems. As illustrated, the circuit 170 includes four columns 190 to 193 of cell segments 195 electrically coupled in series, and each cell segment 195 includes two solar cells 200 electrically coupled in parallel, which may produce about 19 amps. Furthermore, the plurality of solar cells 200 of the solar cell array 160 includes non- bypassed solar cells 204.

[0085] In alternative embodiments (not shown), the circuit 170 includes two columns of cell segments 195. Each solar cell may be smaller in surface area than each solar cell 200 of the illustrated embodiment (e.g., reduced height and/or width) and, thus, may generate a lower amount of current per solar cell at the same or similar voltage. Further, the smaller surface area may be such that the number of solar cell segments 195 per column and/or the number of solar cells per solar cell segment 195 is greater than in the embodiment illustrated in FIGs. 3-8. For example, each column may include 36 cell segments 195, and each cell segment 195 may include 10 solar cells. As a result, the solar cell array 160 may have 72 segments electrically coupled in series providing the higher voltage/lower current output (e.g., 360 to 400 volts/19 amps). Further, for example, such an embodiment may not use backside/second surface conductors. Still further, in various embodiments, one or more bypass diodes 165 may be electrically coupled in parallel to two or more solar cell segments 195 being electrically coupled in series. In other words, one bypass diode may bypass two or more solar cell segments 195, for example, when a lower amount of current is running through each solar cell segment 195 due to a reduced surface area of the solar cells.

[0086] As described herein, the solar cell array 160 may have bypassed solar cells 202 and/or non-bypassed solar cells 204. In various embodiments, all of the solar cells 200 may be bypassed solar cells 202. In many embodiments, the solar cells 200 include both bypassed solar cells 202 and non-bypassed solar cells 204. Certain solar cells 200 may be less susceptible to receiving less solar radiation than other solar cells 200 and the solar receiver 120 may not benefit from bypassing those solar cells. In some cases, the solar cells 200 toward the center of the solar array 160 may be less susceptible to receiving less solar radiation. The center of the solar array 160 may be defined in a one or two dimensional manner (e.g., a center between two ends or a center of a two-dimensional shape).

[0087] In the illustrated embodiment, the solar cell array 160 may be described as having bypassed solar cells 202 along a perimeter of the array. The solar cell array 160 may also be described as having non-bypassed solar cells 204 interior to the perimeter of the array (e.g., toward a center). The solar cell array 160 may be described in a similar manner with respect for solar cell segments 195.

[0088] A column may be described as having bypassed solar cells 202 and/or non- bypassed solar cells 204. In some embodiments, an interior column 191, 192 may be described as having at least one solar cell 200 that is a non-bypassed solar cell 204. An interior column 191, 192 may also be described as having at least one solar cell 200 that is a bypassed solar cell 202. Furthermore, a column 190, 191, 192, 193 may be described as having a first and a last solar cell 200 being bypassed solar cells 202 (e.g., the first solar cell may be the solar cell at one end of the column and the last solar cell may be the solar cell at an opposing end of the column). In one example, an interior column 191, 192 may be described as having only first and last solar cells 200 of the column being bypassed solar cells 202. An interior column 191, 192 may also be described as having non-bypassed solar cells 204 between first and last solar cells 200 of the column. Moreover, an exterior column 190, 193 may be described as having only bypassed solar cells 202.

[0089] The exemplary circuit 170, including one or more bypassed solar cells 202 in an interior column 191, 192, may be facilitated by the layout of the exemplary circuit board 140 described herein in more detail. [0090] In FIGs. 7-10, an exemplary circuit board 140 is shown in various views or in schematic representation to further illustrate the relationship between various components thereof. For example, FIGs. 7-9 are diagrammatic plan views of the exemplary circuit board 140. In particular, FIG. 7 shows an exemplary current flow of the exemplary circuit 170 through the circuit board 140 from a top view. Also, FIG. 8 shows components coupled to the first surface 152 of the exemplary substrate 150 as transparent layers of the circuit board 140 from a top view, whereas FIG. 9 shows components coupled to the second surface 154 of the exemplary substrate 150 as transparent layers of the circuit board 140 from a bottom view.

[0091] FIG. 10 is a schematic representation (e.g., a diagram, not a view) illustrating the components of a circuit board 140, such as a solar cell 200, first conductors 156, vias 220, second conductors 158, and bypass diodes 165, which shows an illustrative path for current through said components.

[0092] An exemplary current flow (e.g., as shown generally by a dashed line and arrow in

FIG. 7) through the circuit 170 of the circuit board 140 begins at the first terminal 180 and ends at the second terminal 182. As shown, the current flows through a plurality of solar cells 200 defining a solar cell array 160 in a zig-zag pattern through the solar cell array 160 between a first end region 205 and a second end region 207. In some embodiments, the first end region 205 is opposite to the second end region 207 (e.g., top and bottom, left and right, near and far, etc).

[0093] In the illustrated embodiment, each column 190, 191, 192, 193 includes a plurality of cell segments 195 and/or solar cells 200 coupled in series from the first end region 205 to the second end region 207. The current flow may be described as flowing from column-to-column, each column being connected in series. In particular, the current flow may be described as flowing from the first end region 205 to the second end region 207 in columns 190, 192 and flowing from the second end region 207 to the first end region 205 in columns 191, 193.

[0094] The solar cells 200 may each be coupled to a plurality of first conductors 156 in various arrangements. In the illustrated embodiment shown in FIGs. 7 and 8, each solar cell 200 shown is at least partially disposed over at least one first conductor 156. One side of the solar cell 200 may be coupled to the first conductor 156 (e.g., anode or cathode). Each solar cell 200 (e.g., the other of anode/cathode) may then be coupled to an adjacent first conductor 156 and/or solar cell 200. In this manner, the series circuit between solar cells 200 and cell segments 195 is formed. Also, as illustrated, each solar cell segment 195 includes two solar cells 200 disposed over the same first conductor 156.

[0095] As shown, in some exemplary embodiments, a plurality of bypass diodes 165 flank the solar cell array 160 (e.g., adjacent a first end and an opposing second end of the solar cell array 160). The plurality of bypass diodes 165 may be grouped into two sets disposed at opposing side regions of the circuit board 140. Each terminal 180, 182 may also be disposed in the opposing side regions. The excess current from any cell segment 195 may be diverted into one or more bypass diodes 165 as needed.

[0096] The circuit board 140 may include a plurality of vias 220. The vias 220 may comprise conductive material and extend from the first surface 152 to the second surface 154. As illustrated, each via 220 may be positioned between a first and a second conductor 156, 158 and may electrically couple the first conductor 156 to a second conductor 158 (e.g., to form or define circuits that extend from the front surface to the back surface, and vice versa).

[0097] As illustrated, the exterior columns 190, 193 include a plurality of bypassed solar cells 202, and the interior columns 191, 192 include some bypassed solar cells 202 and non- bypassed solar cells 204. In particular, the interior columns 191, 192 may include one or more bypassed interior solar cells 210, 212. In particular, each interior column 191, 192 may include one or more bypassed interior solar cells 210 located closest to the first end region 205 than the remainder of the solar cells of the column (e.g., in a first row of the solar cell array 160 closest to the first end region 205). Each interior column 191, 192 may also include one or more bypassed interior solar cells 212 located closer to the second end region 207 than the remainder of the solar cells in the column (e.g., in a last row of the solar cell array 160 closest to the second end region 207). In the illustrated embodiment, each interior column 191, 192 includes two bypassed interior solar cells 210 and two bypassed interior solar cells 212.

[0098] In many embodiments, the solar cell array 160 may be configured to generate a significant amount of current in the circuit 170, for example, about 19 amps, as well as a significant amount of thermal energy. In order for the circuit 170 to operate properly, each of the conductors 156, 158 may be configured with a minimum size determined to suitably conduct the current of the circuit 170 and/or thermal energy through and/or away from the solar cell array 160. For example, the maximum current capacity for a conductor 156, 158 may depend upon its resistance value, which may depend upon its dimensions (e.g., the width of a conductor 156, 168 perpendicular to the direction of current propagation). The resistance of a conductor 156, 158 may further depend upon the temperature of the conductor, yet the temperature itself may be influenced by energy dissipation based on the resistance of the conductor 156, 158. Thus, a minimum dimension for one or more conductors 156, 158 (e.g., minimum width) may be defined, for example, to facilitate proper operation of the circuit 170. In at least some embodiments, a minimum width is defined for each of the first conductors 156 electrically coupled in series to a solar cell 200.

[0099] Each bypassed solar cell 202 in an interior column 191, 192 may be electrically coupled to a bypass diode 165 through one or more first conductors 156, vias 220, and second conductors 158. In a first example, two solar cells 230, 231 are bypassed interior solar cells 210 in interior column 192 (e.g., first row cell segment). In a second example, two solar cells 232, 233 are bypassed interior solar cells 212 in interior column 192 (e.g., last row cell segment).

[00100] In the first example, the solar cell 230 (or solar cell 231) in the first row cell segment is coupled to two first conductors 156, in particular the first conductor 240 at the cathode (e.g., current input) and the first conductor 243 at the anode (e.g., current output). Some or all of the current flowing through the circuit 170 to the cathode of the solar cell 230 may flow through the solar cell. However, some or all of the current may be diverted to the solar cell 231 or the bypass diode 280. Bypass diode 280 is coupled to the first conductor 241 at an anode and the first conductor 243 at a cathode. The first conductors 240, 241, 242, 243 are electrically-isolated from one another on the first surface of the circuit board, except each conductor is coupled to one or more vias 220. In particular, the conductor 240 is coupled to one or more vias 250, the conductor 243 is coupled to one or more vias 252, the conductor 241 is coupled to one or more vias 270, and the conductor 242 is coupled to one or more vias 272. In turn, the vias 250, 270 are coupled to the second conductor 260, and vias 252, 272 are coupled to the second conductor 262.

[00101] The current in circuit 170 may bypass the solar cell 230 by flowing from the first conductor 240 to the first conductor 243 through these components. The bypass flow of the first example is perhaps as best illustrated in FIG. 10, but is also shown in FIGS. 8 and 9. In particular, the bypass current can be described as flowing from the first conductor 240 through the via 250 to the second conductor 260 and then through the via 270 to the first side conductor 241 coupled to the bypass diode 280. Next, current flows through the bypass diode 280 to the first conductor 242, through the via 272 to the second conductor 262, and finally through the via 252 to the first conductor 243. It should be noted that the second conductors 260, 262 appear to overlap in the schematic representation of FIG. 10, which is only for illustrative purposes. As perhaps best shown in the views of FIGs. 7-9, the conductors 260, 262 are electrically-isolated from each other on the second surface. In total, the current flows through at least four first conductors, four vias, and two second conductors to bypass the solar cell 230 (or solar cell 231).

[00102] In the second example, the solar cell 232 (or solar cell 233) in the last row cell segment is coupled to two first conductors 244, 246, in particular the first conductor 244 at the cathode (e.g., current input) and the first conductor 246 at the anode (e.g., current output). Some or all of the current flowing through the circuit 170 to the cathode of the solar cell 232 may flow through the solar cell. However, some or all of the current may be diverted to the solar cell 233 or the bypass diode 282. Bypass diode 282 is coupled to the first conductor 245 at an anode and the first conductor 246 at a cathode. It should be noted that the cathode of the bypass diode 282 is coupled to the same first conductor 246 as the anode of the solar cell 232, which is different than the first example. Yet similar to the first example, the first conductors 244, 245, 246 are electrically-isolated from one another on the first surface of the circuit board, except some conductors are coupled to one or more vias 200. In particular, the conductor 244 is coupled to the via 254 and the conductor 245 is coupled to the via 274. In turn, the vias 254, 274 are coupled to the second conductor 264.

[00103] The current in circuit 170 may bypass the solar cell 232 by flowing from the first conductor 244 to the first conductor 246 through these components. In particular, the bypass current can be described as flowing from the first conductor 244 through the via 254 to the second conductor 264 and then through the via 274 to the first conductor 245 coupled to the bypass diode 282. Next, current flows through the bypass diode 282 to the first conductor 246. In total, the current flows through at least three first conductors, two vias, and one second conductor.

[00104] As can be seen, the exemplary circuit board 140 may be described as maintaining a solar cell array 160 while providing bypass circuits to one or more interior solar cells by providing a circuit pathway through the substrate and along a second surface (e.g., backside), such as through vias 220 and second conductors 158. Further, certain first conductors 156 are utilized that are not coupled to a solar cell, such as first conductors 241, 242, and 245. In this manner, bypass electronics can be provided in covered portions of the circuit board 140 on the first surface 152 (e.g., topside). Further, the second surface 154 can be free of electronic components and be utilized almost entirely for thermal energy transfer. Still further, including non-bypassed solar cells 204 in the solar cell array 160 may reduce the number of bypass diodes 165 utilizing surface area on the circuit board 140. This may be advantageous when some of the solar cells 200 are less susceptible to, or at a lower risk of, receiving less than an optimal amount of solar radiation.

[00105] FIG. 11 is a diagrammatic plan view of another exemplary circuit board 300.

Circuit board 300 may be similar to circuit board 140. For example, the circuit board 300 may be a similar overall size as circuit board 140, and a solar cell array 305 may have a similar absorption surface area as the solar cell array 160 for generating electricity and/or thermal energy.

[00106] However, in contrast to the quadrilateral area of solar cell array 160, solar cell array 305 is reconfigured to include one or more exposed conductor regions 310 between a first end region 320 and a second end region 315 of the solar cell array 305 (e.g., conductor islands and/or inlets). By reconfiguring the grid array of solar cells in FIG. 1 1, at least some of the solar cells in the interior columns may be bypassed without vias or conductors on a rear, or backside, surface (e.g., like second conductors 158 shown in FIG. 9), which may improve manufacturability, for example. Although any number of solar segments may be bypassed, in the illustrated embodiment, only peripheral solar segments are bypassed by bypass diodes.

[00107] All patents, patent documents, and references cited herein are incorporated in their entirety as if each were incorporated separately. This disclosure has been provided with reference to illustrative embodiments and is not meant to be construed in a limiting sense. As described previously, one skilled in the art will recognize that other various illustrative applications may use the techniques as described herein to take advantage of the beneficial characteristics of the system and methods described herein. Various modifications of the illustrative embodiments, as well as additional embodiments of the disclosure, will be apparent upon reference to this description.