Friday, 29 June 2012

PV-T. The new kids on the block.

Drambo has sent in the following: June 2012.

Up till now the choice or what type of solar panels to fit was straightforward: go for thermal solar panels to heat water, or photo voltaic (PV) panels to generate electricity. Very recently a third choice has presented itself and for people yet to take the solar micro-generation plunge this is probably the one to go for: PV-T, standing for Photovoltaic – Thermal. An example of what’s on offer can be found here.

This is a hybrid of the two technologies; simultaneously providing both electricity and hot water and because the water heating is integrated into the back of the PV panels it takes up no more roof space than a conventional PV system.

There is a further benefit of this set-up: bright sunlight, whilst superb for pv generated output also carries with it the contradictory curse of reducing your generated output - as the panels heat up their efficiency decreases and thereby their output falls. Since the water heating pipework draws its heat for the underside of the solar panels, it cools them, so helping to counteract the heating effect of the sun and thereby maximise generated output.

These panels are already on the market and, whilst they do carry a small price premium over conventional PV systems I firmly believe they are now the way to go.

For those like myself who’ve already invested in conventional PV systems that look decidedly unsexy in comparison I can offer but one consolation: PV-T panels only recently received Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) accreditation, so if we’d gone for them earlier we wouldn’t have qualified for the FITs payment scheme.

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