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Hybrid solar collectors increase efficiency of sustainable energy generation

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article image Technological advances will make hybrid solar power systems more efficient while reducing manufacturing costs

The rising cost of energy production and decreasing availability of fossil fuels are focussing increasing attention on the benefits of sustainable sources of energy.  

Wind and solar power are the two most widely used sustainable energy resources with significant advances made to make these technologies as efficient as possible.  

Two types of hybrid solar collectors have been developed to increase the efficiency of solar cells in solar power systems in different ways.  

While the first type increases efficiency by increasing the amount of solar energy that is directly converted into electricity, the second type makes use of the conversion of energy to electricity and the collection of heat produced in the process.  

In the case of the first type, the cells of the hybrid solar collectors are made out of two different materials wherein one material receives the sun’s energy, which causes electron excitation, and the material begins to give off, or donate, electrical particles. For this reason, it is often called the donor material.  

The particles it donates are transferred to the second material called the acceptor, which acts to diffuse or disassociate the charged particles and distribute them through the system in the form of usable electricity. The interaction of the two materials together results in a larger amount of solar energy being converted into electricity than would occur with only a single material.  

Several combinations of materials are used in the donor/acceptor pair as well as several designs for both how the transfers occur and how the disassociation of the particles takes place. Popular designs include the nanoparticle/ polymer composite design, carbon nanotube design, dye-sensitised design and the inorganic nanostructure/ small molecule design.  

The second type of hybrid solar collectors uses a different technique to increase efficiency with a popular version manufactured by Solimpeks Corporation in Turkey.  

The Solimpeks Volthik hybrid solar collectors use tubes to circulate water through the panels. The water absorbs heat produced by the interaction of the sunlight with the collector materials. The water is then circulated and stored in tanks, which can be used for hot water or heating in the structure.  

The most optimally efficient hybrid solar collector system incorporates both of these techniques but increased costs and installation difficulties associated with the Solimpeks type of hybrid solar collectors may mean that the simpler dual material collectors are more practical in some situations.  

Technological advances will make hybrid solar power systems more efficient while reducing manufacturing costs, allowing their installation more frequently during new construction, which in turn will further lower the costs.   

LX Group is an award-winning electronics design company based in Sydney, Australia, specialising in embedded systems and wireless technology design.

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