British company develops tubular solar panels

Naked Energy a UK energy solutions company, has developed a new solar panel which generates both electricity and hot water through a hybrid design.

One of the key challenges of solar photovoltaics (PV) is that their efficiency drops if the panels get too hot. For every 1º rise in temperature [from 25°C], you lose half a percentage point of efficiency thus the panels start to generate less power. In a warm climate temperatures can reach up to 70 to 80 degrees. On top of that: Photovoltaics operate at maximum efficiencies of 18%, which means that most of the potential sunlight is not captured and potential energy is therefore wasted.

Solar photovoltaic cells and solar thermal collectors both profit from the sun. The former turns the light into electricity, while the latter turns it into hot water for heating. Guildford based Naked Energy has now created a hybrid solar PV and thermal panel that it claims improves efficiency at high temperatures by approximately 45% and can generate both electricity and hot water. This type of device is commonly referred to as PVT (photovoltaic thermal).

So, how does it work? The solar thermal panels are placed into vacuum tubes. Each solar cell can change the tilt, so it follows the sun for as long as it can. Inside each vacuum-sealed tube is a power-producing photovoltaic wafer. Sunlight hitting the wafer generates extra heat, which then transfers to the tube’s solar thermal collector using the company’s patented thermosyphon technology. The heat that is transferred away from the photovoltaic cells can be used for space heating, hot water, de-salination and cooling. As a result electricity generation increases as compared to conventional photovoltaic cells since the heat is taken away and cooling down the photovoltaic cell, it is possible to generate more electricity than conventional photovoltaic cells.

Credits: Naked Energy


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