A UK-based cleantech firm will spend this summer trialling an a new generation of solar panels in secret locations across Britain, hoping to offer a ‘two-for-one’ benefit to those still skeptical on solar. Naked Energy, based in Guildford, have spent the last few years developing a hybrid solar panel system that uses photovoltaic cells to heat water as well as generate electricity. After spending the last two years raising over £1m in funding from sources like the Shell Springboard competition, Naked Energy are now “in advanced negotiations” to raise a further £1.5m to trial it’s ‘thermosyphon’ system, dubbed Virtu, with two commercial partners.
UK Startup Doubles Up with New Solar Panel Design
The two pilot sites for Vitru will be in the UK, though their details will not be disclosed at this time. However, the partners involved in backing the system are reportedly a large energy company and a major UK supermarket – who would certainly have cause to boost their clean commercial energy prospects.
New Solar Panel Invention
If the pilots prove a success, an international roll out could soon be on the cards, with both Chile and China high on the list of prospective sites – something that will come as no surprise to energy market insiders given China’s new status as the world’s top investor in clean energy.
Chile’s warm South American climate would also be the ideal environment for the Virtu system given the nature of it’s design.
Current generation photovoltaic cells lose half a percent efficiency for every degree above 25 degrees centigrade – however, the design of the Virtu helps draw heat away from the cells on a panel and into a vacuum tube arrangement, where the excess heat warms water instead.
According to research by Imperial college London, this helps the Virtu system achieve an advantage over current solar cells in the form of a 46% increase in energy output.
We have seen improvements in solar panel technology over the last 12-months as panels become more energy efficient, with longer running times, even at low light conditions and the price point has really started to come down to. But if this trial proves to be successful this is a massive leap in the technology that could change a lot of people opinions on moving over to solar for the first time.
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Do you think this has the potential to change our view on solar panels and enhance our ability to embrace renewable energy resources.