Turkey-based solar company Solimpeks and UK-based Newform Energy have jointly completed the UK’s largest hybrid solar photovoltaic (PV) and solar thermal (solar PV-T) installation at the Chetwode respite centre.
The installation, with 7,92-kW peak electrical and 27,38-kW peak thermal capacity, was the first to use hybrid collectors from two manufacturers. The result was the Volther Hybrid PV-T collector system.
The PV-T array is 68,5 m2 in size, and consists of 48 panels, and satisfies the facility’s electricity and hot water needs.
Solimpeks explained that the hybrid modules allow extra PV module heat to be absorbed to produce hot water, thus optimising efficiency.
Previously, one of the main drawbacks of many conventional PV systems, besides the high initial cost, was the limited amount of electrical output, when compared with the solar input.
Solimpeks said that the Volther hybrid solar collector system allowed excess heat to be recaptured, and boosted the system’s return on investment.
Solimpeks distributed hybrid collectors in Europe, Australia, North America and South America. The company noted that it was interested in the African market, and that it had a strategy to ramp up sales, as well as seeking distributors.
Both solar photovoltaic and solar water heating systems have increased in popularity. However, Solimpeks stated that for every 10 ºC increase in the temperature of a PV module, a loss of about 5% of electricity output was experienced.
“To solve this problem, scientists have been working on different methods. The most promising one is cooling PV cells with fluid. In the PV-T modules, production of electricity and hot water is done simultaneously. The PV module’s heat is absorbed to produce hot water so that PV efficiency can be optimised,” said the company.
PV-T hybrid collectors reduced the temperature of the PV cells and thereby increased performance electricity production of the PV module, which also increased the life span of the modules.
Further, the PV-T modules produced electricity and hot water in the same area, thus saving space.
Solimpeks said that studies have indicated that a normal family home in northern Europe could produce enough electricity for its needs with only 25 m2 of PV-T collectors.
To store the electricity, normal batteries, or a hydrogen fuel cell, could be used.