At the edge of the possible: IBM has developed a high-performance solar collector




At the edge of the possible: IBM has developed a high-performance solar collector

ibm research

Modern solar panels can concentrate strictly limited amount of energy to prevent overheating of collectors. A team of researchers led by IBM is working on a solar plate, which is overheating and damage are not terrible. This means a significant increase in performance.

Today, in the event Earth Day (Earth Day), dedicated to the protection of the environment, scientists announced the development of affordable photovoltaic system capable of collecting 80 percent of the incoming solar radiation and convert it into useful energy. The proposed system can be built anywhere where there is a need for a continuous supply of energy, water and cold air. The cost of building such a facility three times lower than that of similar systems.

IBM Research, Airlight Energy, ETH Zurich and the Interstate University of Applied Sciences and Technology received from the Commission for Technology and Innovation in Switzerland grant of $ 2.4 million on research and development of high-efficiency photovoltaic system, which has the name of High Concentration PhotoVoltaic Thermal ( HCPVT ).

The prototype uses HCPVT huge parabolic mirror from a variety of facet mirrors. Built-in tracking of the sun determines the optimum angle of the plate. Mirrors reflect the sun’s direct rays on the receiver with hundreds of photovoltaic chips equipped with a microchannel liquid cooling system. Each chip size 1 x 1 cm on average within 8 hours of the day of solar 200-250 watts capable of generating electricity, while the entire hub – 25 kW.

The cooling system keeps the temperature the same chip at a concentration of solar radiation, enhanced 2000 times. The temperature can be maintained at a safe level, even if the concentration will rise again in 5000, said in a statement.


In contrast to existing photovoltaic systems, which collect only electricity and excess heat released into the atmosphere, HCPVT system uses thermal energy for water desalination and air conditioning.

For freshwater IBM researchers are using technology developed by them for high-performance computing machines with water cooling. For example, water, which absorbs the heat generated by supercomputers and Aquasar SuperMUC, used in heating buildings.

According to the authors of the project, the production costs of such a facility does not exceed $ 250 per square meter, which is three times lower than the cost of similar systems. Normalized energy cost is less than 10 cents per kilowatt-hour of energy. For comparison, the reduced rate for electricity in Germany is more than 25 cents per kilowatt-hour, and the cost of energy produced by coal-fired power plant varies between 5-10 cents per kilowatt-hour.

Currently HCPVT prototype is being tested in the laboratory of IBM Research in Zurich (Switzerland).

Meanwhile, in France, the construction of a unique solar stadium .
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Tags: HCPVT , IBM Research , Solar Energy , Solar Panels


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