Virtu, a hybrid solar panel, which at the same time heats water and generates electricity has been invented by UK renewable company Naked Energy. Richard Boyle, Chief Engineer Naked Energy, has developed the technology, which combines a photovoltaic cell that generates electricity into solar thermal panel that generates hot water. The solar thermal panels are unaffected by ambient temperature and are placed into vacuum tubes.
According to Nick Simmons, Naked Energy’s chief financial officer, they are able to create more useful energy per square meter as compared to conventional panels available in market today. Boyle by combining the two technologies addressed one of the basic problems facing photovoltaic cells. As photovoltaics get hot their efficiency decreases. With every one degree increase in temperature half a percentage point of efficiency decreases. The maximum efficiency of very efficient photovoltaic panel is 18 percent, which too gets down to four percent when temperature reaches 65 degrees, which is a normal temperature on the solar panel face.
In the new solar panels heat transfer is done using patented thermosypon technology that uses the unnecessary heat from the photovoltaic cell for heating water. As a result electricity generation increases as compared to conventional photovoltaic cells since the heat is taken away and the photovoltaic cell is cooled down maintaining them at a uniform temperature. As found by Prof Peter Childs, Heat transfer expert from Imperial College London, with whom Naked has been closely working, the heat transfer method has made the Naked Energy’s photovoltaic cells capable to generate 40 to 45 percent more energy.