A New Hybrid Solar Energy Converter creates both Thermal Energy and Electricity

A solar module featuring in the hybrid Solar Energy Converter
(Codd et. al., Cell Reports, 2020)

The ever increasing demand for renewable and clean energy drives the researchers to come up with more efficient and cost-effective ideas. This has become a success story for the team of scientists from Tulane and San Diego Universities, USA who came up with a high performing, hybrid Solar Energy Converter. This has been part of a 6-year project funded by the US Department of Energy. 

The speciality in this unit is converting the Solar energy into both Electricity and Thermal energy! The processing of Heat does not cost any additional energy and is free from Greenhouse gas emissions! This system is said to be cost-effective as well costing only 3 cents per kilowatt-hour! 

Moving from the conventional solar panels, this method utilises the full spectrum of Sunlight. While generating Electricity from the super performing, multi-junction Solar cells, the unit also captures Infrared rays into a thermal receiver producing Thermal energy. The ‘Spectrum-splitting hybrid receiver’ utilises sun’s energy with a staggering 85.1% efficacy, delivering steam at up to 248C!

The produced Thermal energy can be stored and used for either ‘low temperature (<100°C) heat or high temperature (>100°C) heat’ usage. Its purpose is to serve both domestic and industrial Thermal energy demands, from food processing to large scale productions.

This successful design is now on the mending for fine-tuning to be able to use for the commercial market. Hopefully it will fulfil a much-needed energy purpose in these critical times!

The research has been published in the scientific journal Cell Reports Physical Science.