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Being the first time they had presented in the UK, it was unclear whether it was a 'presentation of the concepts' or literally a 'training course' - we went with an open mind because we have read up on it beforehand and believe in the concept.
I travelled there with David Hill of Carbon Legacy, and there were about 30 attending. Both David and I are convinced that this is a way of the future, if linked to thermal storage and GSHPs, and went determined to make this work.
AnafSolar started in 1976 as a manufacturer of fire extinguishers and have a leading place in the Italian market for this. They fitted a large amount of PV panels on the factory roof to reduce their power consumption, and benefit from the sunshine of Pavia, Italy. They became aware that the PV panels could be 10% more efficient if cooled, and began to develop their own product using technology from the refrigeration industry.
A naf solar presentation, good product
The course was not well presented, and we only got the information when we asked good questions. However, the product sells itself to those of us who understand the technology, even if the company doesn't yet have well prepared presentations in english, with illustrations.
A Danish guest said at one point "Let me say, that the principle benefit of PV-T has got to be in thermal storage in the ground", and that was music to my ears. I agree with him fully, you need a coolish thermal store to dump the heat into, not a hot water tank.
The idea of PV-T
|PV (grey) is from a normal panel, |
the thermal power (pink) is far greater on the same day.
The heavy dotted line is showing the 10% PV power
increase in late morning and all afternoon
from the liquid cooling.
There are 'issues', such as pipe diameter into the panels, and conflict of aluminium and copper piping, but these can be met by good circuit design. There is also the requirement for smart switching and valving, as I have on my present system.
The complexity for the installers attending is that one needs the 'Full Monty' to make it worth doing. Instead of doing PV one year, and then perhaps a solar thermal or GSHP another, the whole thing must be an integrated installation at the same time (to get the best results) - difficult to understand if you are not an expert on the entire range of technologies. Great for New-build, difficult for Retrofit.
The next direction
I had a chance to show the AnafSolar guys my research on the GSHP and Sunbox system here. What I would really like to do, is to take the PV panels off my house, replace them all with AnafSolar panels, tee them into my ground loop and monitor the result - compare with the existing sunbox. This is the only house in the UK which is ready to go with all the infrastructure in place - the GSHP, the borehole, the plumbing system in the loft that goes directly to the borehole - and a researcher ready and willing to monitor every day the resulting energy flows.
A major problem with this is that you can't legitimately sell on second hand PV panels. Apparently every panel is registered with OfGem, and they would show up again if installed elsewhere, disqualifying the owner from the FIT.
The 22 180Watt panels could be used either on an off-grid installation, or I could talk to OfGem and explain that these have been taken off for research purposes to be replaced with the equivalent wattage, and would they kindly de-register the original panels. If I have the backing of my Professor, this might be possible.
Thinking rationally, my PV roof is working so well that it's too good to disturb, so I will probably just add more panels to the South Wall. I am also considering a small house extension to the south, which could be roofed with AnafSolar panels.