Icarus Hybrid Solar Photovoltaic/Thermal Energy Storage and Power Boosting System
Solar deployment remains constrained by cost and other limitations in energy storage and photovoltaic (PV) technologies. Batteries are expensive, PV panels are inefficient and PV production is intermittent. Abundant daytime PV production does not offset peak demand nor peak charges. The long return on investment (ROI) does not encourage business to incorporate solar technology to their buildings. Over 70% of solar energy reaching a panel is not used or rejected as waste heat. Typical PV panels have an efficiency of 20% rated for ideal conditions (77oF). Unfortunately, during each day, panels heat up to temperatures often reaching 150–170oF. This rise in panel temperature decreases production ~0.20%/oF, reducing efficiency to just 16% by early afternoon.
Another shortcoming of photovoltaics is the lack of safe, inexpensive energy storage solutions. State-of-the-art storage technology (e.g. lithium-ion batteries), is cost prohibitive to many users (installed costs are approximately $308/kWh). The high cost of lithium ion batteries limits integration with PV systems which without energy storage systems, are unreliable on cloudy days and at night. In addition, traditional batteries need energy to charge, consuming daytime PV output.
Icarus collects and stores waste heat energy, effectively converting PV arrays into hybrid PV/thermal (PV/T) systems with clean thermal energy storage. Icarus improves real-time power output and generates additional power on-demand. In total, Icarus will produce 25% more power in a combination with real-time production and generating full array capacity on-demand (e.g. after sunset or on cloudy days) from storage for four hours. The installed $/kW cost of the Icarus system is projected to be 44% that of a traditional PV system with lithium ion battery storage.
This highly innovative technology seeks to increase solar deployment in small to medium commercial projects. This will reduce carbon emissions and promote decentralized power by addressing critical storage and generation problems in the PV industry. Icarus captures and stores more than 30% of the solar energy that reaches PV panels that would otherwise be lost as heat. Icarus increases PV output while charging the thermal battery. Generating and storing power without consuming PV power to charge a lithium ion is a game changer for the industry. The low Levelized Cost of Energy (LCOE) of Icarus systems ($0.034/kWh) vs. traditional equipment with Li-ion storage ($0.078/kWh) provides a 2.7-year ROI for Icarus.