Christophe Williams receiving award from Ian Ellerington – Head of Innovation delivery DECC
The Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC) has awarded the company €1 million through it’s Energy Entrepreneurs Fund to assist in the development of its innovative solar technology. The focus of the funding will be on optimising production processes accelerating Virtu toward commercial launch.
Virtu is a breakthrough hybrid solar technology providing combined heat and power. The technology has gained significant interest from around the world and the Naked Energy team are eager to bring this exciting product to market.
“We are delighted to receive this award and vote of confidence from DECC, in what is a highly competitive space.” Said Christophe Williams, Founder and CEO of Naked Energy Ltd. “The funding will have a dramatic impact on our progress, as we are now able to secure additional talent to our team and partner with some of the best scientific and academic partners in the country,”
Energy and Climate Change Minister Greg Barker said: “Innovation is vital for the move towards a low carbon economy and it’s great to see so many entrepreneurs rising to the challenge. I wish the winners every success with their projects.”
In addition the company has secured a further €300,000 grant from The Climate-KIC, which is Europe’s largest public-private innovation partnership, working to address the challenge of climate change. The company is an affiliate partner and continues to be a part of their ‘acceleration program’ to drive the business towards commercial success.
Now that Naked Energy has secured significant funding the company is accelerating towards its first pilot projects. The projects will see Virtu installed in carefully selected locations to demonstrate the versatility of the modular collectors in both temperate and high insolation geographies generating thermal and electrical energy to be used for domestic and commercial applications.
Small-scale production is scheduled to begin in mid 2014 with larger volume activity set to start in 2015.
Christophe Williams, is candid about how he sees the future:
“The opportunity is crystal clear. Despite the consolidation taking place in the worldwide solar marketplace the future is very bright – literally. Generating clean, unlimited power from the sun is more than viable, its imperative as part of a sensible long-term energy mix.
Virtu captures over four times the energy of a conventional photovoltaic panel and once we reach scale will be priced very attractively. We have a highly scalable business and a worldwide market. It is difficult to keep under the radar with such an exciting proposition; we hope our potential customers can continue to be patient.”
L to R – Nicholas Simmons (CFO Naked Energy), Matthew Collier (PA Consulting), Richard Boyle (CTO Naked Energy), Adrian Murrell (Head of Product Development Naked Energy), Bruce Cross (MD GBSol), Malcolm Moss (MD Doby Verrolec), Ian Ellerington (Head of Innovation Delivery DECC), Christophe Williams (CEO Naked Energy)
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.”
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.