The recently introduced Hypersolar concentrator cover/glass is intended to reduce the cost of solar PV panels by allowing the use of 1/3 – 1/4 of the solar cells per panel. Since the solar cell is the most expensive component of the PV panel, this – in theory – allows a significant cost reduction / watt of solar photovoltaic technology.
This technology may have similarly big impact on solar collector technology in terms of cost and system complexity.
Solar collectors produce heat from solar rays by heating a heat-transfer liquid (solar hot-water collector) or air (solar air collector). Solar collector systems are much cheaper than solar PV systems but are still fairly complicated and expensive.
For example, liquid-transfer collectors require piping, pumps and complex control mechanisms (solar controller computer which tells when pumps operate…etc) for transferring the collected heat to the storage. Air-collectors also need fans, fairly large holes on walls/roof, control mechanism…etc.
With the Hypersolar concentrator, one could build a system like this:
- The solar panel has a very simple construction, it only concentrates light (ideally the full spectrum) into optical cables. The Hypersolar glass is directly connected to the optical cables, there is no need for insulation in the panel.
- Piping is replaced by optical cables which (in this system) transfer all collected photons to a central heat storage (a large water tank). The water tank is equipped with a high-performance photon/heat converter (black metal absorber and a simple pump to move the hot water away from the photon/heatsink). The converter should be a very simple metallic device with good thermal engineering.
- From this point everything is the same as a normal solar-hot-water system which provides hot water for heating and sanitary purposes. (piping the hot water from the storage to bathrooms, from storage to the floor-heating pipes or to fan-coil radiators…etc).
In larger systems the optical cable must be protected against accidental damage since it will transfer energy at high rates.
Naturally, more complex systems can also be built. For example several optical cables can be used and each of them can go to a specific room and connect into a hot-air producing photon sink (some sort of fan-coil radiator unit). This would make heat distribution easier and eliminate the need for a larger central heat storage. Naturally, the radiator units in the room need to be some sort of hybrid since they need to produce heat at night as well (e.g. work with electricity at night).