Renewable energy systems designer/developer- outsourcing consultant

2020 update.

We are soon to be starting a new year, as we see the end of the worst year on record due to the Covid-19 Virus, which has delayed a lot of plans.

Here in the UK, the direction of travel for home and business heating and hot water is towards heat pumps, with solar PV and solar thermal no longer part any government policy except for the current RHI subsidy policy which will end in March 2020

One thing is for sure, I am starting to pick up from government policy news, is that carbon taxes will increase on fuel duty for cars and for home owners, a % of the environmental taxes loaded onto electricity bills, will be moved across onto gas bills.

This idea is to reduce the cost difference of DIRTY gas to that of cleaner electricity having shown the increased use of renewables such as wind and solar farms along with nuclear with almost the end use of coal for power generation, except during very cold spells and no wind blowing.

This could be very good news for solar thermal to support heating during the heating season if the increase in gas costs goes ahead.

The current high cost to replace gas/oil boilers with a heat pump only system (which also included a new cylinder) will not be affordable for the majority of home owners at £12,000 to £15,000, but changing an unvented cylinder to a vented thermal store, combined with a 30 tube heat pipe collector will be around £5,000 installed.

I will be updating my pages on solar thermal soon, now I have secured a new heat pipe collector which has a cut off temperture of 85c, but can only work with one of my own vented Thermal Stores.

For the time being, I will no longer be making any new comments regarding PVT.

Merry Xmas and Happy New year.
I will update my web pages in 2021.

Some history behind my own experiance and the design of a solar thermal panel that converts PV to PVT

The first PV + thermal (PVT) solar hybrid panel was developed in Germany in 2007/8 and shown to the trade at Intersolar Germany. At that time, the cost of PV panels was very high, but the Munich based manufacture i later visited had developed a way using automotive robot bonding, to bond a thermal water panel to the PV frame free glass panel.

Since that time, many other PV and flat plate solar panel manufactures have developed there own idea of PVT, including a UK company developing a PVT evacuated tube collector.

The following pages, PDF files and pictures will open up the debate that is going on across the world, from China to the USA, from the UK to Europe and beyond and what the future of PVT holds in the future.

The idea to couple together a solar PV panel with a solar thermal panel into a PVT solar panel was to circulate cold water through the back of the PV panel to cool it down below 26c with a pre heat warm water benefit of up to 30c.

The figure 26c is the temperature that all the worlds’ solar PV panel manufactures use to calculate the efficiency of each PV panel they produce, conducted in a controlled air temperature facility. Each PV panel comes with its own certified test label.

It’s a worldwide proven fact that once the temperature of the solar cells  increase above 26c, the efficiency begins to drop.

The German manufacture produced such figures to demonstrate this and it’s through that company with others following, that we now have 56 companies across Europe promoting such a PVT hybrid solution with 2 established in the USA.

The drop box down load demonstrates this in a power point presentation as a PDF, where it’s been proven that the glass encapsulating solar cells can heat up above 60c in air temperatures of 32c with clear blue skies.

At this temperature the efficiency of the solar PV panel drops by 0.05% for every 1 degree rise above 26c. Even in a very cold air temperature, glass solar panels can still heat up above 40c.

Unfortunately, the PV panel manufactures are not interested, as they see the increased cost and delay in the installation of PV only as adding a cost to the sale of their PV panels. This lack of knowledge and working experience of a much wider use of solar thermal panels is why there is little interest to date, but this is changing fast, since the establishment of the EU funded TASK60 programe.

You then have the solar thermal industry,  fighting the solar PV industry for sales “to retain a solar water heating industry” but instead of looking beyond mass produced flat plate solar water heating collectors, where some just look to change the glass to a PV glass is where the problems begin.

I hope to break all this down over the next few pages with facts, pictures and PDF files written up years ago, along with you tube videos’

Up until 2016, the majority of PVT solar panels use the mass produced glass PV panels, to attach a solar thermal panel to the back. The far right hand picture above consists of a standard PV framed panel which accommodates a slim metal frame plate panel, where a water/glycol mix is pumped into the absorber exchanger as a closed loop system developed by a German in 2014. The 2nd picture is similar to what Sundrum Solar in the USA has developed, similar to this German thermal steel panel sold separate to the brand of PV panel you select. The 1st picture from the top left, is the only company (UK) who had the idea to embed solar PV cells onto the copper heat pipe sealed inside an evacuated tube (This UK company managed to secure over €1 million from the EU and a further £350,000 from DECC in the UK to date (15/04/2017)

This is the final part of the section that relates to PVT solar panel types, to be followed by WHAT ARE THE SYSTEM OPTIONS in order to maximize the use of the generated DC electricity as well as the by product of heated water to 30c.

What was proven in the early days of marketing the PV+T concept was that the heated water that flowed across the back of PV panels to heat swimming pools was its ideal use to offset the use of a gas/oil boiler or a heat pump.

What was proven beyond any doubt, is that when you have a large water store volume, open to gravity, with the right amount of PVT panels, over an 8 hr day during the summer months in the Northern climate, that the pool water volume would never over heat above 30c. Many manufactures of PVT collectors continue to boast high temperatures of thermal hot water to above 80c, which affects the efficiency of the PV side of the collector, defeating the concept.

The sizing of the water storage tank and the plumbing of the system, I will present after completing this part of the facts.

During recent tests in my back graden between glass PV panels with a plastic film backing and the NEW glass free PV panels with the aluminum backing, the temperatures I recorded both at the same position to the sun, on a  clear blue sky day in the South of England in June 2017, was to show that the back of the glass panel maximum temperature reached 62.4c while the glass free with aluminium backing reached 64.4c

To keep up to date on what is happening in the solar PVT market, click onto the link below, which takes you to the NEW Task60 PVT web site.  Solar Speedflex Co Ltd is a listed partispent for the United Kingom.

Update 09/09-2019

Thermaltricity International and the owner of PVT Lab in Australia, have been working towards delivering a cost effective answer for photovoltaic thermal (PVT) systems. PVT Lab have recently announced their latest design, the CoolsheetTM heat exchange panel. The Coolsheet system has an International PCT Patent filing after a number of Design changes, the system has been designed from the ground up to be light weight, installer friendly and cost effective. A successful pilot system has been operational for over 2 yrs, with a large scale commercial system to be completed in 2021 with luck.
From 2021 we are planning to draw up a licence agreement that allows one company per countty to produce the COOLSHEET panel.

More details to follow, as I am provided with updates I am allowed to share

Below is our latest video on you tube of the PVTLab Cool Sheet solar hybrid panel

PVT Lab_Coolsheet_Brochure.pdf
In the UK Caplin Solar Ltd and its home building development company Caplin Homes, have developed a Hybrid PVT panel system combined with ground source heat pumps and a Earth heat bank. Visit the web site to find out more, as the first 47 NEW build project is due for completion early this year (2020) .
If anybody is interested in the purchase of a PVT solar panel, contact me, so I can provide a Thermal Store system that works together with the Caplin PVT solar panels.