How it works
By efficiently drawing heat away from the solar panel for space heating, hot water, de-salination and cooling the photovoltaic cells are maintained at an optimum operating temperature. This results in significantly higher electrical output than standard photovoltaic panels. This type of device is commonly referred to as PVT.
Both energy outputs are optimized replacing the need for two separate conventional panels (PV and Thermal), dramatically reducing installation time and cost whilst maximizing useable installation area.
The vacuum tubes have low thermal losses and will produce abundant hot water / heat regardless of being installed in hot or cold climates. The annual yield depends on the application, local climatic conditions and quantity of panels installed.
For installations requiring high temperatures for thermally driven cooling or heat storage we are producing matching ‘thermal only’ vacuum tubes, which will be able to produce significantly higher temperatures.
Performance and characterization of the panels is being undertaken by Imperial College London and will be published late 2012. Early indications are that ‘Virtu™’ produces unprecedented power output and is a step change in solar technology.
Electricity - On-site, exported or stored
Heat- Hot water, space heating and industrial processes
Cooling- Thermally driven chillers and coolers
Advantages over what exists
- Patented high efficiency vacuum tube technology – Hybrid design is much more effective than standard solar collectors.
- More useful energy per square metre – The combined outputs deliver unprecedented performance.
- Patented heat transfer system – protects and improves the life and long term performance of the photovoltaic cells.
- Versatile low cost installation – Can be installed anywhere, pitched, curved, angled or flat roofs and walls. No requirement for expensive A frames.
- Higher energy collection – 20-45% more energy through rotation of tubes and arrays.
- Heat management system – End users can select to generate more electricity or heat depending on their own energy demands.
- Self-cleaning impact resistant borosilicate tubes – 10% more energy input overall because flat panels require more cleaning.
- Greater return on investment – For example in the UK the Virtu® benefits from both FITs and RHIs delivering unparalleled payback and a guaranteed income.
- Bigger savings – Lower electricity, hot water and heating bills.
Large commercial roof space such as hotels, leisure centres, public amenities where requirement is for large amounts of electricity, heat for water, building heating and chilling.
Laterally mounted tubes are ideal for curved roofs and are in harmony with existing architecture. They can be rotated individually for optimal power and do not require large obtrusive mounting frames.
Utility scale installations where the electrical output can be used for example to supply grid power in tandem with heat output for water purification, desalination, greenhouse crops and so forth. Heat can also be stored to supplement 24/7 power generation.
Can be rack mounted to maximise usable ground area or mounted on sun tracking heliostats to further increase energy collection.
Historically the payback period for investments in rooftop renewable energy technology (especially in the absence of government subsidies) has prohibited widespread adoption. Now with this hybrid technology and meaningful subsidies, on-site microgeneration makes increasing economic sense and is creating a mass market for Virtu™.
Terraced properties with limited roof space can maximise solar collection with Virtu™ to provide abundant hot water and electricity.
Older properties can also benefit but please note that listed buildings and buildings in conservation areas may need planning permission.