Sudbury-based Renewable Resource Recovery Corporation, in collaboration with Cambrian College, has developed a technique that harnesses waste energy from solar panels and increases efficiency by up to 20 per cent.
The company's patent-pending system called @Source-Energy consists of a concrete wall panel with solar cells and a thermal heat recovery system which uses energy that would be lost otherwise to produce heat.
“Photovoltaic cells normally have a solar conversion efficiency of between 15 and 27 per cent; the balance of the energy is converted to waste heat,” said John Hood, Renewable Resource Recovery's vice-president of research and development, in a release.
“This technology captures that waste energy and returns it to heat the building through a heat pump. In hot weather, the heat can be stored in a ground thermal energy storage system, which can be used to heat the building during cold weather.”
The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada granted Cambrian College around $25,000 to help develop the technology.
“Basically you’re getting two products for the price of one,” said Steve Gravel, Cambrian’s applied research developer, in a press release. “The capacity to generate electricity while heating air and water provides two useable products to end-users. Often, cost is the major barrier to installing solar panels, but co-generation makes solar installations more cost-effective and attractive.”
Renewable Resource Recovery anticipates residential users – including those with cottages and summer homes – would benefit from the technology, along with businesses.