Naked Energy, the UK cleantech firm that has developed a super-efficient 'two-in-one solar’ energy system, will shortly begin trialing its patented technology with two commercial partners.
Guilford-based Naked Energy
has developed a hybrid solar system
that both heats water
and generates electricity.
Tests show it produces up to 46 per cent more energy than the typical solar panel on the market today.
The company is now "in advanced negotiations" to raise £1.5 million to trial its patented 'thermosyphon’ technology, Virtu, with a "large energy company and a major supermarket chain," managing director Christophe Williams told GreenWise.
The two pilot projects, details of which are still under wraps, will be conducted at sites in the UK. If successful, they could lead to two large-scale international deployments – one in Chile and another China, according to Williams. The company’s ambition is to begin a major global expansion drive by the end of the year.
"We need to move fast to make the most of our first mover advantage," said Nick Simmons, financial director.
How the technology works
The Virtu system consists of a vacuum tube arrangement, similar to a Thermos bottle, with a glass tube surrounding a smaller diameter water tube. Unwanted heat from the photovoltaic cell is harvested to heat water. It’s a more efficient system than conventional solar panels because it continues to produce electricity when other designs begin overheating.
"Solar photovoltaic panels lose half a per cent of their efficiency with every degree above 25 degrees centigrade," said Williams. "Our design transfers that heat away from the cells, increasing the electricity output from the solar cells and providing heat for hot water."
Tests of the prototype by Imperial College London found that the technology is 95 per cent efficient.
Over the last two years, Naked Energy has raised £750,000 from business angels and industry backers to develop its technology. It won a further £40,000 award from the Shell Springboard competition in 2011.
But early positive exposure to the innovative solar system means the small company is struggling to manage demand, admitted Williams.
"The priority is to get into production," he said.
The company has been identifying potential manufacturing partners to produce the first wave of panels and since last summer has forged a relationship with Romag, a British manufacturer of PV panels and specialty glass products, and Doby Verrolec, a UK specialist manufacturer of steel custom profiles.
The company is also looking to develop a second generation system that could include a sun-tracking system, thereby further improving efficiencies.
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