Two for the price of one – Solimpeks’ hybrid solar collector

The Turkish company, Solimpeks Corp., has launched its Volther hybrid photovoltaic-solar thermal collector, which produces electricity and hot water simultaneously. The hybrid system allows extra module heat to be absorbed to produce hot water while optimising efficiency, the company says.

Historically, the main drawback of many conventional photovoltaic (PV) systems has been the high initial cost and limited amount of electrical output compared to the solar input. This new system allows excess heat to be recaptured and boosts the system's return on investment (ROI), announces Solimpeks.

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%. Scientists at Solimpeks have turned this problem into a solution by developing its “PV-T”: a hybrid PV and solar thermal collector, which enables the PV cells to be cooled using water circulating around them. The result, greater electrical output from the cells and the production of hot water.

As well as increasing PV module performance, the PV-T hybrid collectors mean that less roof space is required for the same output of electricity and hot water, since only one system is needed as opposed to a solar thermal array and PV array side-by-side. Furthermore, Solimpeks reports that the hybrid PV-T system’s ROI is shorter than the PV systems, and because PV cell temperature is reduced, the lifetime of cells is lengthened.

According to the Turkish company, calculations by several scientific organisation and universities show that an average family house in northern Europe would require only 25 square-metres of PV-T collectors to meet its hot water and electricity demands.

Solimpeks’ R&D Manager, Joop Hoek, also explains that excess electricity from the system could be stored in normal batteries or hydrogen fuel cells, while heat could be stored underground; giving the example of the Drake Lake solar project, where 52 homes were heated through the winter by Solimpeks using solar thermal energy collected during the summer.

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