A frequent complaint about solar thermal generators and solar energy in general is that the technology fails to produce enough electric power to be economical. A team of researchers from Boston College and MIT have set out to change that, with a new type of solar thermal device that combines high-performance thermoelectric materials with spectrally-selective solar absorbers in a vacuum-sealed chamber that boosts conversion efficiency.
In English, this means more electric power from the same sized panel, while producing thermal power for other uses such as water heating. The results of this technology could have far reaching appeal, for industrial as well as residential. With the ability to simultaneously heat water and generate electricity, the hybrid panel has the potential for realizing payback much faster than any other device currently on the market.
Looking for more information? Check out the article “Solar-thermal flat-panels that generate electric power” from Solar Daily.