In most cases, if you’re in the market for solar, you’re either considering a solar hot water system, a solar electricity system, or both. In the near future, however, you may have a hybrid option, thanks to a Turkish company called Solimpeks Corporation.
Solimpeks’ new “Volther” solar hybrid technology produces electricity and hot water simultaneously using hybrid modules. The circulation of water does more than provide hot water for use at home, though–it acts a boon to the photovoltaic (PV) system, reducing the heating of solar cells, which the company says actually results in an increase of 40% efficiency over conventional PV panels.
In this way, the Volther hybrid solar collector works to overcome many of the drawbacks of conventional photovoltaic systems–the high initial costs, limited efficiencies, and long payback periods. Solimpeks’ hybrid solar collector system allows excess heat to be recaptured, boosting the system’s return on investment and lessening the payback period.
The issue of heat gain in photovoltaic systems has long been a problem. Solar cells need to sit out in the sun, but for every Kelvin degree of heat gain, a 0.5 % loss of efficiency has been noted. That means, every 10 degrees added to the temperature of a PV module means a loss of about 5% of electricity output. The Volther hybrid solar collector solves this problem in a what seems like a commonsense way; by using water to take up that heat, and put that hot water to work–i.e., in your shower. No word on when this system may be available in the US.