Solar companies are beginning to see the benefits in harvesting both forms of the sun’s energy (heat and light) with a single device. On the forefront of this developing trend is Entech Solar, based out of Ewing, NJ, with their ThermaVolt™ solar hybrid system.
The solar unit has both photovoltaic (PV) cells to convert the sun’s light into usable energy and a fluid-filled pipe to trap the sun’s heat and use it to warm water. The device is efficient and economical due to a Frensel lens that concentrates sunlight to 20X its normal power. With such intense light, the amount of PV cells required is 95% less than that of a traditional solar panel. The lens also serves to increase the amount of heat that reaches the fluid-filled pipe.
According to Entech, the devices are able to generate 3 to 4 times the amount of energy of a standalone PV unit. While Entech is currently focused on commercial and industrial applications for the ThermaVolt™ arrays, it will be interesting to see if the company eventually develops a modified version for the residential sector.
Check out this video detailing how the ThermaVolt™ system works: ThermaVolt Video.