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Naked Energy – Financial Times – Future brightens for unsubsidised home solar

November 26th, 2013

November 25, 2013 4:01 pm

Future brightens for unsubsidised home solar

By Sylvia Pfeifer

 

 

 

This month executives from more than a dozen British solar-energy companies flew out to Saudi Arabia led by Greg Barker, minister for energy and climate change. Their objective was to capture a slice of the Islamic kingdom’s $109bn push into renewable energy.

 

Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter, says it hopes to generate 41GW of solar power by 2032 to help meet its growing domestic energy needs and reduce its reliance on oil reserves.

 

Although at an early stage, its ambitious plans have the attention of the renewables industry and start-up companies from the UK. These include Naked Energy and Oxford Photovoltaics. Guildford-based Naked Energy has developed a hybrid solar technology that generates both heat and power from the same glass collectors.

 

Christophe Williams, managing director, hopes the trip will lead to a partnership in the country. He argues that Naked Energy’s technology addresses two key problems facing the kingdom: dust and heating.

 

Conventional photovoltaic panels lose about half a per cent of their efficiency with every degree rise in temperature above 25C. Naked Energy’s design transfers that heat away from the cells, increasing the electricity output from the solar cells and providing hot water, he says.

 

Its technology is still in development – pilot production is expected to start next year – but Naked Energy is among a handful of small players in Europe that are prospering despite high-profile victims of the solar boom, such as Conergy and Q-Cells, and a global supply glut. “There has been enormous consolidation in Europe,” says Mr Williams, “but I think there is still plenty of growth and sustainability here”. While it was “not easy” to secure initial funding, the company has benefited from British expertise and knowhow, he adds.

 

Europe is still “a hub for research and development into solar”, says Jenny Chase of research group Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Much of the focus is on small improvements in the materials and processes used in solar manufacture to keep driving down costs. The world’s cumulative photovoltaic capacity surpassed 100GW of installed electrical power last year – capable of producing as much annual electrical energy as 16 coal plants, according to the European Photovoltaic Industry Association.

 

While about 31GW of capacity was commissioned around the world in 2012, the amount of new solar power installed in Europe fell sharply for the first time in more than a decade, says the association. This was a “turning point in the global PV market that will have profound implications in coming years”.

 

“Europe does not need more solar,” says Ms Chase. “Most countries are well on track for or have exceeded their 2020 solar targets.” The market for large-scale new build solar is almost done, she adds, with the market moving to focus on households and small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

 

The group expects total PV new build in Europe this year to total 9.2GW, of which 2.8GW is residential, 3.5GW commercial buildings and 2.9GW utility scale. Last year, total European build was 16.9GW. The slack, says Ms Chase, is being made up by Japan and China, with a combined total of 16.3GW this year, up from just 6.1GW in 2012.

 

Government subsidies helped drive rapid growth in Europe. Holger Rubel, senior partner and global head of Boston Consulting Group’s green energy and sustainability sectors, says that, in Germany, “it was good to have subsidies for solar PV to help it get off the ground but the industry was over-subsidised and it needed to be corrected.”

 

The key focus, he says, will be on “self-consumption, with homeowners and SMEs installing panels on roof tops, rather than a subsidised market”. Module prices have fallen by more than 80 per cent since 2008. This is creating opportunities for unsubsidised solar amid increasing examples where solar has achieved grid parity – the point at which electricity from PV is as cheap as conventional power.

 

In Germany, says Mr Rubel, electricity retail prices are near 0.30 per kWh, compared with the “levelised cost” of energy using roof-top PV of 0.11 to 0.15 cents per kWh: “The more energy you can consume yourself, the better.”

 

BCG expects installations in Germany to fall as the market shifts from one driven by feed-in tariffs to one driven by “self-consumption”.

 

By 2016, the market should see an installations pick-up, with about 4GW-5GW by 2020, fully driven by self-consumption.

 

Europe has done a great job to build solar into an industry, says Ms Chase, “but it is not necessary that Europe continues to bear the burden – in terms of the cost of energy – to increase the installation numbers.”

 

 

Naked Energy winner of Energy Generation at The Cleantech Open California 2013

November 21st, 2013

 

The Cleantech Open (www.cleantechopen.org), the world’s largest clean-technology accelerator, has announced the winners of the Global Ideas Competition.

 

 

 

Orchestrated in conjunction with Global Entrepreneurship Week (www.gew.co), this annual competition sees startups from around the world competing in their respective countries for national awards, with the national winners then facing off at the Cleantech Open Global Forum.

 

After two days of intensive judging, a group of five national winners were selected to present to a final jury of investors and technology experts.

 

Naked Energy was the winner of the Energy Generation category and People’s Choice award.

 

 

Fixing solar energy; the naked energy creates a hybrid solar solution

November 20th, 2013

The Positive – Science & Technology

 

By Elliot Stockill: 20th November 2013

 

 

 

 

Solar panels are a dream method of energy production. They harness a resource which for all intensive purposes is unlimited. Sunlight has a worldwide availability that is almost guaranteed fifty percent of the time, yet solar energy generation is still relatively under used when compared to its potential. Whilst some may presume the price tag that comes along with harnessing free energy prevents investment, it is the inefficient nature of standard photovoltaic (PV) cells within solar panels that constrains widespread solar employment.

 

Whilst heat is an energy source that can be harnessed, within a solar panel increased temperature decreases the amount of energy it can produce. Excessive heat can see a panel’s efficiency reduce by up to twenty five percent, limiting its production when its resource is at its most plentiful. Due to the fact heat is an inescapable factor when rendering sunlight, several attempts have been made towards addressing this issue. By raising a panel from the roof conductive airflow can reduce the heat absorption, increasing efficiency. Also insulating and isolating parts of the module in shade can also help. However, this approach does little to address the matter at hand, acting only as a mild defence. A large percentage of the light energy is converted into heat on contact with the panel, which means even flawlessly insulated solar panels are inefficient relative to the potential energy content of sunlight that theoretically could be harnessed. This is where Naked Energy, a design and innovation company focused on renewable energy and energy conservation, offers a solution to this cause. They may provide a solution that allows the utilization of both thermal and light energy simultaneously.

 

 

Conventionally, to exploit both the heat and light energy of the sun, two separate panels are required: thermal and PV panels. Yet this still reduces the optimum efficiency by ineffectively using space, an important commodity when considering industrial applications of solar energy. The Naked Energy’s new Photovoltaic thermal (PVT) panel, called Virtu, uses a single panel to achieve both jobs utilizing the heat as an energy source. Primarily, the heat is drawn away from the PV elements of the design within a vacuum tube. This increases electricity production of PVT panels alone by up to forty percent compared to standard PV panels. This method of cooling is thermally driven so that the previous disadvantageous heating actually acts as self-preserving mechanism for electricity production. Furthermore, the removal of heat acts to protect and increase the longevity and performance of the unit. Unlike light, heat is already in an energy form highly useful to humans. As such this product simply acts to collect it oppose to converting it into electricity. This thermal energy can then be used in space heating, hot water and desalination. Though theoretically, this could be modified towards an industrial focus of total electricity production, and likewise Virtu vacuum technology can be repurposed towards total heat collection as well.

 

Whilst the Virtu may seem like a showpiece, it is a brilliant example of engineering overcoming wastefulness, a self-cleaning outer case, thermally driven heat protection, the list goes on. This showpiece is designed to be affordably produced on a large scale, and for the average consumer. However, investment is first required before solar power can be revolutionized. With Internet mega giants Google investing eighty million dollars toward solar power with a total investment in renewable energy exceeding one billion dollars, this sector is fast becoming a respected and profitable one. And with the obvious advantages that PVT panels provide, coupled with the observable changes in opinion toward renewable energies like solar, investment is hopefully inevitable.

 

With the potential of solar energy finally becoming realized as an efficient method of powering our homes and cities, how long will the average person have to wait before electricity can be described as home-made? 

Virtu in Grand Designs November 2013- “Solar Breakthrough”

November 1st, 2013