PV Innovations Never Sleep: Updates in PV Technology, Standards Testing and Design
Hybrid Solar Photovoltaic/Thermal (PVT) Energy Storage and Power Boosting
Thursday, October 8, 2020
3:10 PM – 3:20 PM EDT
Icarus Hybrid Solar Photovoltaic/Thermal (PVT) Energy Storage and Power Boost system aims to extract and store heat energy from solar photovoltaic (PV) panels for low-grade waste heat recovery using Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC). This technology will: 1) improve the performance of solar panels by cooling panels; 2) store heat energy for use during cloud shading or after sunset; 3) generate additional power from extracted, stored waste heat using ORC; 4) improve the lifetime efficiency and extend the life cycle of traditional photovoltaic panels by limiting the daily heat cycle and related fatigue; and primarily 5) improve the return on investment (ROI) for a typical commercial, industrial or utility scale solar array. System simulations in Aspen Plus yield a performance increase in overall output by more than 25% (9% improvement in panel output due to cooling, and 16% or more additional power output from the ORC). A full-scale 2.2-kW prototype was assembled to validate the results predicted by simulation and to optimize design and performance. During proof of concept testing, PV panels were cooled up to 5.5oC and power production improved by up to 20.8 W per panel (160-watt panels). The energy storage system demonstrated fluid temperature increases as much as 40 oF. A second 25-kW prototype with thermal storage for generation after sundown is approved for third party verification. This PV/T prototype aims to produce 25% more power through improved PV electrical production and four hours on-demand generation from storage. Economic estimates project the Levelized Cost of Energy (LCOE) for Icarus at 44% ($0.034/kWh) of a traditional PV system with lithium batteries ($0.078/kWh). This is because Icarus charges the thermal battery without consuming PV production. The expected return of investment for a 100-kW system is 2.7 years. Since the system stores heat for power generation, it has inherent benefits over traditional batteries: the thermal storage and generation capacity won’t degrade over time; and the thermal battery is environmentally safe. Recent estimates demonstrated a removal of 112,000 MT/year of CO2 if the system was adopted in 1% of California’s 25,000 GWh PV resources. The safe thermal battery is designed to maintain and provide at least four-hours of power generation at array capacity (i.e., 400-kWh for a 100-kW array) and enable increased integration and operation flexibility without the downsides of traditional batteries. The highly innovative technology and proprietary control system will increase solar deployment to reduce carbon emissions and promote decentralized power by addressing critical storage and generation problems of the PV industry.