Entech Solar energy hybrid has hopes for bright future
By Jeff Salton
August 14, 2009
Renewable energy technology company, Entech Solar, has completed a preliminary design review and prototype of its next-generation concentrating solar product, ThermaVolt II, combining concentrating photovoltaic and thermal (CPVT) technology. The company says its product delivers four to five times the amount of energy compared to traditional photovoltaic systems and costs less to produce.
ThermaVolt II exploits Entech Solar’s optical technology by using its proprietary arched Fresnel lens to provide about 20 times the concentration of sunlight onto the solar cells, saving about 95% of the relatively expensive silicon cell material.
Typically, PV arrays can get extremely hot and this energy is often wasted. But the ThermaVolt system utilizes the sun to deliver power and heating from the same unit at a commercial scale.
“For the past 25 years, our arched Fresnel lenses have demonstrated outstanding performance in the real-world environment, and ThermaVolt II will continue to use this proven optical concentrating technology,” said Mark O’Neill, Entech Solar’s Chief Technology Officer.
The product’s unique design is applicable for both ground and roof-mount applications, and focuses on low cost, manufacturability, easy installation, compactness and high reliability. ThermaVolt products incorporate a solar tracker that helps expose the array to maximum amount of sunlight during the day.
Dr Frank W. Smith, Entech Solar’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “ThermaVolt II’s combined output of electricity and thermal energy produces four to five times the amount of energy compared to traditional photovoltaic systems. Through the net metering of electricity and the offset of natural gas, ThermaVolt II has the potential to be highly disruptive in the solar energy marketplace.”
Since March 2009, when Entech suspended manufacturing operations for its previous generation of concentrating solar systems, the company has focused on the design and development of its next-generation products.
ThermaVolt II module’s size and shape are now similar to those of a standard flat-plate PV module, allowing for easier installation and palletized shipping. By utilizing well-known, existing semiconductor manufacturing process and off-the-shelf equipment, the company is able to produce the units at a lower cost.
Entech’s next steps include building a reliable supply chain, completing the UL-certification process, and installing beta sites.