A team of scientists from Brunel University London, UK has come up with a solar panel/heat pipe hybrid system, which basically turns the whole roof into a solar power generator. This makes the panels a lot more efficient, since this system is able to harvest more solar energy than just solar panels alone.
This system is made up of flat heat pipes and PV cells, which can heat water and generate electricity. The pipes measure 4mm x 400mm and are used to heat water to be used by the household, while at the same time transferring heat away from the solar cells. In the tests by the creators, they found that this hybrid system was able to cool the PV cells by 15 percent more compared to a traditional PV array installation.
This is especially important since the more sunlight hits the roof panels, the more heat is collected, which can lead to damage and has no impact on the energy generation efficiency of the panels. So, something needs to be done to dissipate this heat effectively, which is why this hybrid system is so welcome.
The hybrid system developed by the team is also very easy to install, since the solar panels are designed to click together as simply and seamlessly as laminate flooring. The team is currently testing a prototype of the system on a three-bedroom house constructed by the Building Research Establishment (BRE) in Watford, UK.
According to the team, the system is so efficient that it is capable of collecting energy from early morning dew evaporating off the roof. That’s quite a feat and it will be interesting to see how well this system does in the tests, and whether it will soon be ready for the general market.