heat energy

Two team up to solve heat problem in PV panels

Two of the oldest solar technology manufacturers, SolarWorld and FAFCO, have teamed up to deal with a significant weakness in solar PV panels: heat degradation.

The problems excessive heat causes the panels is significant. On a hot day, a panel can lose up 10-25 percent of its rated output and over time, consistent heat above 90 degrees Fahrenheit heat can actually cause permanent degradation of up to 30 percent in a couple of years. That information isn’t widely disseminated and few people, even those who sell the technology, knows the problem exists. That’s why when we were talking to PV vendors at the Intersolar Conference in San Francisco, the only people who could acknowledge the problem was at the FAFCO/SunWorld booth.

FAFCO has been providing passive solar water heating products and SunWorld PV panels since the 1970s. They have created several cogeneration systems over the years, but this is the first that marries the two technologies.

FAFCO has invented a heat exchange system known as CoolPV™ that is attached to a back of a typical 3x5 panel. Acting and looking very much like a radiator on a car, cold water is run through the system, drawing  heat off of the panel. Currently, the most common use for the water is heating spas and swimming pools, according to FAFCO president Bob Leckinger.

Leckinger preferred not to give the cost of the system, but claimed it could be recouped within three years. How you might buy the technology is another question.

Leckinger said they are selling product now, but looking on either the SunWorld or FAFCO websites finds no information available on the new systems. And since the companies are focused on recreational uses it’s not likely it will be available for the general public any time soon. That is unfortunate because there are a lot of solar panel farms literally burning up in the American Southwest.

See full interview here: