Public acceptance and appreciation for alternative energy has grown considerably in the past few years, particularly when considering photovoltaic systems and solar hot water heaters. However the initial investment required for such systems restricts its greater acceptance, particularly when photovoltaic cells are involved.
This thesis discusses the investigation carried out into the feasibility of using solar concentration as a means of reducing the cost of these residential photovoltaic modules. The premise of solar concentrators is that expensive silicon cells are replaced with optics that can be manufactured utilizing inexpensive materials such aluminium and plastic. In addition to reducing the size of the photovoltaic cells, it is proposed that waste heat which is generated during photovoltaic conversion be captured and used in the local hot water system.
Hybrid photovoltaic/solar thermal (PV/T) systems, as they are known, can simultaneously provide electrical and thermal energy, achieving a higher energy conversion rate of the absorbed solar radiation. This will not only increase solar energy captured but also reduce the cost to the consumer.
This report outlines all work conducted towards the development of a concentrated photovoltaic/solar thermal hybrid system. It details the design decisions undertaken and the rationale for them, in an effort to assist future work in this area.
The design is predominantly concerned with material and thermal analysis as the physical loading is not expected to be significant, although where appropriate, the stress and deformation analysis has been carried out with the aid of Finite Element Analysis (FEA).
Computer Aided Drawings (CAD) have also been produced to assist with the visualization of the final design. The final CAD model of the photovoltaic/thermal (PV/T) hybrid module is depicted below.