US firm installs world's first hybrid PV/solar thermal panel cooling system

Silicon Valley based rooftop solar company Chromasun has installed what it says is the world's first solar technology, a hybrid photovoltaic panel coupled with a solar thermal cooling system.
US firm installs world

The project was deployed in San Jose, California in the US in September.

"This project is the first of its kind and uses the newly developed Chromasun hybrid photovoltaic panels and solar cooling system,” said Peter Le Lievre, CEO of Chromasun Inc. “By using the sun's energy to generate electricity and then diverting waste heat to drive an absorption chiller, Chromasun can deliver more useful energy into the building than has ever been possible before. This is especially useful for facilities with large electricity and cooling loads."

"While traditional photovoltaic panels may only harvest 15% of the sun's energy, newer hybrid technologies harvest over 75 percent. Put simply, your roof can work harder for you," Le Lievre said.

The project builds upon hybrid photovoltaic receiver research and development work Chromasun has previously completed with The Australian National University and The University of New South Wales.

Hybrid receivers were first developed and installed in standard Chromasun MCT Collectors and then mounted for testing and data collection at the 2007 Solar Decathlon House at Santa Clara University in San Jose, CA.

The new MCT Hybrid collectors are simultaneously connected to a Yazaki 5RT single effect chiller and a Sunny Boy inverter. 195°F hot water is supplied by the MCT Hybrid panels to the chiller and 250 Volt DC electricity is supplied to the inverter.

Hot water is collected in a storage tank and is also available for domestic supply and hydronic heating as needed. The aim of the project is to demonstrate how even a small roof area can satisfy a large proportion and variety of energy demands typically found in modern buildings.

"I think the MCT Hybrid project represents the best opportunity that I know for establishing hybrid rooftop concentrators to provide greenhouse neutral energy independence," said Dr. Vernie Everett from the Australian National University.

"An integrated system comprising several MCT units can provide all the electricity, hot water, space heating, and solar cooling for conventional houses. The range of units developed also has industrial applications for hospitality, food processing, hospitals, and sports centers to name just a few," Everett said.

Chromasun expects to formally launch the MCT Hybrid collector in 2012.

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