One of the traditional approaches to reduce costs of solar energy is to use inexpensive reflectors to focus the light onto highly efficient solar cells. Several research projects have resulted in designs, where the excess heat is used as solar thermal energy.
Unlike a solar thermal system, which has a selective surface to reduce the radiant heat loss, a CPV/T (Concentrating PhotoVoltaic/Thermal) system uses a receiver covered with solar cells with high thermal emittance.
This project analyzes whether the heat loss from the receiver can be reduced by covering parts of the receiver surface, not already covered with solar cells, with an optically selective coating. Comparing different methods of applying such a coating and the long-term stability of low cost alternatives are also part of the objectives of this project.
To calculate the heat loss reductions of the optically selective surface coating a mathematical model was developed, which takes the thermal emittances and the solar absorptances of the different surfaces into account. Furthermore, a full-size experiment was constructed to verify the theoretical predictions.
The coating results in a heat loss reduction of approximately 20 % in such a CPV/T system and one of the companies involved in the study is already changing their design to make use of the results.
Source: Örebro University
Author: Morfeldt, Johannes