Fraunhofer’s new photovoltaic-thermal (PVT) module has an efficiency of 80%.

Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (ISE), one of the world’s leading solar research institutes, has announced a significant breakthrough in solar technology. The institute has confirmed that its new photovoltaic-thermal (PVT) module has an efficiency of 80%.

PVT modules are a type of hybrid solar panel that can generate both electricity and heat simultaneously. This technology is gaining popularity because it can produce more energy per unit area than traditional solar panels. However, PVT modules have not been as efficient as their traditional counterparts. This breakthrough from Fraunhofer ISE could change that.

The new PVT module from Fraunhofer ISE combines a photovoltaic cell with a thermal absorber. The photovoltaic cell converts sunlight into electricity, while the thermal absorber collects the heat from the sun. The module also has a heat exchanger that transfers the collected heat to a hot water storage tank.

According to Dr. Harry Wirth, Division Director of Photovoltaic Modules, Systems and Reliability at Fraunhofer ISE, “Our new PVT module achieves an efficiency of 80%. This is a significant improvement over previous PVT modules, which typically have an efficiency of around 50%.”

Dr. Wirth also highlighted the benefits of the new technology, saying “The higher efficiency of our PVT module means that it can produce more energy per unit area. This makes it particularly well-suited for applications where space is limited, such as on rooftops or in urban areas.”

The Fraunhofer ISE team achieved this breakthrough by optimizing the design of the PVT module. They used advanced modeling and simulation techniques to study the behavior of the module under different conditions. This allowed them to identify the optimal design parameters that would maximize the module’s efficiency.

This breakthrough from Fraunhofer ISE could have significant implications for the solar industry. PVT modules are becoming increasingly popular, and this breakthrough could accelerate their adoption. It could also lead to the development of more efficient PVT modules in the future.

The Fraunhofer ISE team is now working to commercialize the new PVT module. They are partnering with companies in the solar industry to bring the technology to market. Dr. Wirth said, “We believe that our new PVT module has the potential to revolutionize the way we generate and use energy. We are excited to see where this technology will take us in the future.”

The development of this new PVT module was supported by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy as part of the research project “SolSpaces.” The project aimed to develop innovative energy systems for buildings.


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Agrivoltaics: Combining Agriculture and Solar Power

Agrivoltaics, also known as agrophotovoltaics, is the practice of co-locating solar panels with crops or livestock on farms, ranches, and other agricultural land.

The concept of agrivoltaics dates back to the early 1980s, when researchers in Germany first investigated the potential benefits of integrating photovoltaic (PV) systems with agricultural land use. The idea has since gained traction, and agrivoltaic systems are now being implemented in various parts of the world. According to a report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), there were more than 3,500 agrivoltaic systems globally in 2021, with a total installed capacity of approximately 2.9 GW.

The benefits of agrivoltaics are numerous. By co-locating solar panels with crops, farmers can increase their land-use efficiency, reduce water usage, and improve crop yields. The shade provided by the solar panels also helps to mitigate heat stress on crops during hot summer months, which can reduce crop losses and improve the quality of the produce. Moreover, agrivoltaic systems can provide an additional source of income for farmers, as they can sell the excess solar energy generated back to the grid or use it for on-farm operations.

One example of an agrivoltaic system in action is the Horticulture Solar Power Project in Japan, which was developed by Kyocera Corporation in collaboration with local farmers. The project involves installing PV modules on a 25-hectare agricultural site, where a variety of crops are grown, including tomatoes, cucumbers, and eggplants. The system has been in operation since 2013 and has demonstrated a 30% increase in crop yields compared to conventional farming methods, as well as a 15% reduction in water usage.

Another example of agrivoltaics being used in the real world is the Fraunhofer Institute’s “Solar Harvest” project in Germany. The project involves integrating PV systems with vineyards to create a dual-use system that maximizes land-use efficiency. The solar panels are mounted on elevated structures above the grapevines, providing shade and reducing heat stress on the plants. The system has been shown to increase grape yields by up to 25% and reduce water usage by up to 40%.

Agrivoltaics have also been implemented in India, where the lack of available land for solar installations has led to the development of floating solar PV systems on agricultural reservoirs. The systems not only generate renewable energy but also help to reduce water evaporation and improve water quality for irrigation.

Several studies have also demonstrated the effectiveness of agrivoltaics. A study published in the journal PLOS ONE found that co-locating solar panels with crops can increase land-use efficiency by up to 60%, and reduce water usage by up to 75%. Another study by the University of Arizona found that agrivoltaic systems can increase crop yields by up to 73%, depending on the type of crop and the design of the system.

The cost of implementing agrivoltaic systems can be higher than traditional farming methods, and the design of the system must be carefully planned to avoid shading the crops too much or damaging the solar panels. Additionally, the management of the dual-use system can be more complex, requiring specialized knowledge and skills.

Agrivoltaics offer a promising solution to the challenges of increasing demand for food and energy. By combining agriculture and solar power, farmers can increase their land-use efficiency, reduce water usage, improve crop yields, and generate renewable energy. While there are challenges associated with implementing agrivoltaic systems, the potential benefits make it a worthwhile investment for the future of sustainable agriculture. As the technology and knowledge around agrivoltaics continue to evolve, it is likely that we will see more widespread adoption of this innovative approach to land use.

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