Location: Eastern edge of the Blue Ridge Mnts. Virginia
posted 5 years ago
Yep, this looks real promising! The idea of turning the panel to keep the cells from overheating is genius. This is obviously new technology and it doesn't look like there is much real world, normal person testing, the issue I see is anything that moves has parts that can wear out. This unit would have to be mounted on copper slip rings so as not to twist up the wiring. That makes me wonder how often you would have to change brushes or rings. If their initial cost is low enough, I will definitely want to try one.
I looked at these just the other day. It has a magnet on the bottom that hovers above an opposing magnet at the base, so that should help reduce wear & tear. The shape is supposed to let it catch the optimal sunlight angles throughout the day all year long. It's using concentrated sunlight and the spin keeps it from overheating, apparently. They claim that due to the magnetic bearing, it uses only a small portion of its output to spin itself. They claim there is some sort of accumulation happening from spinning beneath the concentrated sunlight that helps it produce more electricity. Don't understand that, but that is there claim, if I understood correctly.
I need more data on this, but I'm getting a strong waft of bullshit based on what I've seen so far.
ADDENDUM: I caught another description of this approach, and based on that description this technology seems to be just another concentrating photovoltaic system. The only major difference seems to be the cooling system. Now, I take the position that "efficiency" when it comes to solar systems boils down to cost. Efficiency is important in systems that consume fuel because fuel is limited and therefore costly, but the same mind set doesn't apply when the solar "fuel" is practically without limit. With that in mind, here is my concern. Can this cooling system be configured to achieve a $/watt lower than alternatives?... and, in particular, can it be superior to alternative concentrating PV systems? What about performance during cloud cover? It may be that the configuration they have can get the cost down. I'm skeptical.
posted 5 years ago
I don't know if this is useful to anyone or not but---
They said something about the solar cells spinning by the concentrated light improving output beyond what they expected before they tried it. I don't know if that's true or not, but there might be a way to test that cheaply.
Hang a disco ball above a regular solar panel, but behind it slightly so it doesn't interfere with the sunlight that normally hits the panel. Maybe place a mirror beneath the ball to reflect sunlight up to the bottom side of the disco ball.
Use either a motor to turn the ball or put fins on the top part of the ball so the breeze turns it. Sunlight should reflect from the mirrored disco ball down onto the solar cells on the panel, but the reflected light wouldn't stay in one spot due to the ball turning. It shouldn't overheat the panel while it adds extra sunlight.
If there's anything to what this company says, the output on the panel should increase. If not, then we know this company is full of it.
Add this to the simple solar tracker that uses nitinol springs, activated by the sun's heat to contract and turn the panel so it faces the sun, and maybe come out with a less expensive system that outputs more.
Anyway, there's some food for thought.
Location: Colorado, ~5700', Zone 5b, ~11" ann. precip
posted 5 years ago
Just found this article in Popular Science...disappointing, not very comprehensive. But I guess they need to protect the details until they go "live".