Rising to the Challenge - Photovoltaic Thermal Collectors

2024-05-30 15:18:56 By Joshua

Photovoltaic Thermal Collectors – known as PVT – are gaining status in the global fight against climate change. This is because they have the unique capacity to transform solar energy production whilst addressing the challenges posed by rising temperatures.

One of the biggest challenges faced by traditional solar panels is temperature derating, where the efficiency of the panels decreases as temperatures increase. This can significantly affect energy production, particularly in regions with high temperatures. PVT resolves this issue by stripping heat from the panels by passing water (or other coolants) through a heat exchanger in the PV panel  and thereby maintaining the PV panel’s efficiency levels as if they were cool.

PVT comes in 2 configurations (i) a typical PV panel coupled with a flat plate heat exchanger such as Sunmaxx PVT, or (ii) evacuated tubes coupled with PV cells such as the Virtu PVT.  Both are hybrid solar energy collectors that not only generate electricity but also gather thermal energy from sunlight absorbed by the panels or tubes, in contrast to PV panels or evacuated tubes alone. This combined capture of electricity and heat can be subsequently used for a range of purposes, such as heating water for residential or commercial use. In combination with heat pumps such collectors can almost double the CoP (co-efficient of performance) of the heat pump, thereby reducing the need for electricity which can therefore be diverted to energise other alliances.

Looking at Virtu PVT (the highest energy density generating rooftop appliance on the market), converting heat from the PVT tubes into hot water, increases the energy generation density per square metre, far beyond the levels of standard PV panels. A product on the market generates 425W of electricity from PV alone and an additional 482W/m2 of heat energy as hot water. With the same surface area, PVT will increase the energy output by over 210%. PVT not only enhances energy generation, but also provides another valuable resource, sustainably.

As the global climate continues to evolve, the demand for sustainable energy solutions becomes increasingly more and more urgent. PVT offers a response to this challenge by increasing PV panel efficiency, maximizing energy output, and all the while minimizing environmental impact. By harnessing both sunlight and heat, the PVT systems are much more resilient and sustainable than standard PV panels. Additionally, the ability to generate hot water alongside electricity adds versatility and further reduces reliance on fossil fuels.

If you are interested in PVT, contact us here


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