Multitasking is a highly desired skill. Doing two things at once usually means doubling productivity. This ability is a valuable trait in people, because it means they use their time efficiently. It’s an even more valuable characteristic for energy-producing technologies because it means getting more power in less time and, typically, with less financial investment.
Naked Energy, a British company, has made a name for itself by developing a tubular hybrid solar panel that can do twice the work of a traditional flat photovoltaic panel. The product, called Virtu, can generate electricity and hot water simultaneously. The company, led by chief engineer Richard Boyle, believes that this unique product combines the design and process needed to achieve an effective thermal transfer system.
The Virtu isn’t the only hybrid solar panel on the market. Cogenra Solar, for instance, has installed a combination photovoltaic and hot water heating system at the Kendall-Jackson winery near Santa Rosa, Calif., providing electricity and hot water for a bottling and blending facility. But Virtu claims some advantages over its competition.
As indicated in this review, the company’s patented “thermosyphon” technology harvests unwanted heat from the photovoltaic cell to heat up water. As a result of taking the heat away and cooling down the photovoltaic cell, it is possible to generate more electricity than conventional photovoltaic cells.
Both energy outputs are optimized replacing the need for two separate systems (photovoltaic and thermal solar), dramatically reducing installation time and cost while maximizing useable installation area. Since return on investment is paramount to those currently utilizing fossil fuels, this multi-tasking technology could be a big breakthrough for the solar power industry.