A new product launched by a Turkish solar company called Solimpeks offers an ingenious solution to homeowners who would like to benefit from own solar power. The company’s Volther is a hybrid photovoltaic-solar thermal collector, which produces electricity and hot water simultaneously.
The company said in a press statement that the hybrid system allows extra module heat to be absorbed to produce hot water while optimizing efficiency.
The science behind is fairly straightforward. Any PV cell is negatively affected by heat, with output dropping by around 0.5 % for every Kelvin degree. A 10-degree rising in temperature, for example, would mean a loss in power output of about 5%.
Solimpeks scientists succeeded in turning the problem into an advantage with the development of its “PV-T”, described as a hybrid PV and solar thermal collector. The device enables the PV cells to be cooled using water circulating around them. As a result, the electrical output from the cells is bigger and hot water is produced.
Tests showed an improvement of 20% in electric generation compared with conventional PV panels – plus hot water at 140 – 160 degrees Fahrenheit. There are two versions of the Volther Panels: PowerTherm, which is optimized for hot water production; and PowerVolt, optimized for electricity production.
Besides higher efficiency rates, another advantage offered by the system is that less rooftop space is required since only one system is required to carry out solar thermal and photovoltaic functions. Calculations made by scientific and university bodies have shown that an average family house in northern Europe would require only 25 square meters of PV-T collectors to meet its hot water and electricity demands.
Solimpeks said the hybrid PV-T system’s ROI is shorter than standard PV systems. It added that cell lifetime is longer thanks to a reduction in cell temperature.
Volther costs more than conventional PV-only panels, and so does installation. But the cost/benefit ratio does seem to compensate for higher upfront expenses. The product is distributed in Europe and does not have an official distributor in the U.S. However, it can be bought straight from the manufacturer.
Article by Antonio Pasolini, a Brazilian writer and video art curator based in London, UK. He holds a BA in journalism and an MA in film and television.