Known almost as well for its phrase “the light of a thousand suns” as it is for its concentrated photovoltaic technology, ZenithSolar from Israel has developed a CPV cell that can generate a whopping 2KW of power and 5KW of heat.
Best used in industrial applications to generate both electricity and solar-heated water, the Z20 technology was conceived by David Faiman, the director of the National Solar Energy Center and chair of the department of solar energy and environmental physics department at Ben-Gurion University. Although this dish packs a powerful punch, it does have its limitations.
This is how it works:
The dish concentrates “the light of a thousand suns” on to an energy-generating III-V solar cell. But the system gets so hot that it has to be cooled with water, which is incredibly hot after it runs off the dish.
This water doesn’t go to waste since it is next directed to a heat-exchanger, and used on site. During the summer months, the heated water will reach temperatures of up to 70 degrees Celsius, and about 35 degrees in winter.
The dish is eleven square meters and the cell is 10cm on either side. One of these giants can heat 250 gallons of water a day.
Using the Z20 that is also certified for Feed in Tariff rating, Kibbutz Yavne in Israel is producing and selling electricity to the national grid and providing hot water for 220 community residents.
But here’s the catch: this system relies on uninterrupted sun. If a cloud passes through the sky, the system will be compromised and power output diminished. So it really works best in the biggest baddest desert environments our earth has to offer.
Unfortunately, those same environments are lacking on the hydrological component. Faiman is not naive about the technology’s shortcomings. He told Greentech Media that he is also keeping his eye on thin films and solar thermal. But there is one very crucial advantage to his CPV technology: cost.
Many concentrating solar receivers on the market require huge outlays for raw materials – sometimes accounting for half of the overall cost. But this CPV receiver only comprises 5% of the overall cost. That’s worth its weight in sun.
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