New Concentration Solar Power Modules
The alternative sources of energy are constantly evolving. Scientists and manufacturers are trying to come up with better products that are user friendly and economical. Government is drawing policies that encourage use of alternative sources of energy. Researchers, entrepreneurs and common people are devising their own ways to use clean and green sources of energy. We are reading almost everyday about some innovation in the area of alternative energy by one university or another. Recently, University of Lleida has designed a concentration solar power module that produces heat, cold and electricity. The unique feature of these solar power modules is that they can be integrated to façades or building roofs. People instrumental in this project are Daniel Chemisana who is a member of the research group in Agrometeorology and Energy for Environment, Manel Ibáñez and Joan Ignasi Rosell. Both Manel Ibáñez and Joan Ignasi Rosell are lecturers in University of Lleida.
The team has developed a thermal-photovoltaic modular system having a solar concentration of ten suns. Solar concentration of ten suns means only a tenth part of a standard system’s active surface is needed to produce the same energy. This energy can be in the form of electricity, heat, or both simultaneously. It is understood that the reduction in the surface of used solar cells can lead to reduction in cost of solar panels. The added advantage is this new technology can generate cold by connecting a heat pump to the system. They have already requested an international patent for this system.
How this research team was able to reduce the surface area without compromising on the amount of power generation? A stationary lens and a linear absorber plate are the main components of the concentrator system. Lens and a linear absorber plate help in concentrating the sunlight to generate energy. This concentration system is responsible for reducing the space that until now was needed with traditional plates. It is to be noted that traditional plates move around in search of sunlight.
Rosell also emphasized about the architectural integration that is the USP of this module. These modules can be installed either on roofs or in façades, which will definitely reduce their visual impact. You can set up these plates on roofs, on the closure of concrete or brick blocks. They will act as a curtain wall in the façades or as a part of the railings in terraces. You can term them as your “building’s second skin”. This module is useful for residential buildings, companies or farms.
Why one should go for this model? According to Rosell apart from forming a second skin for a building, this device also demonstrates the global efficiency of energy conversion. The conversion rate could rise above 60%. Researchers at University of Lleida are hoping that the product could be manufactured at commercial scale in a year if companies show positive response for this technology. The prototype has been funded by CIDEM and has the support of the University of Lleida Technological Springboard.