Solar Electricity and Hot Water ( Solar Thermal Magazine) – Focused Sun of Las Cruces, New Mexico, USA is planning to shake up the solar industry with an inexpensive module that captures four times more energy than a conventional solar panel of the same size. The module, called FourFold, produces both electricity and hot water. It can pay for itself in as little as two years, bringing local jobs plus cheap, clean energy. For every dollar spent, you capture four fold more solar energy.
A FourFold covers most of modern energy needs: its electricity powers lights, refrigerators and air cooling, while its heat can warm a home or drive boilers. In the developing world, the module is needed in village clinics where it can sterilize water and refrigerate vaccines.
The fabrication technology to make FourFold solar modules in small local factories can be licensed from Focused Sun. A town as small as 5,000 can support a solar factory. These aren’t short term jobs: most towns and small cities will take decades to solarize.
Costs of the module’s collector are similar to a same-sized conventional PV panel because sandwich fabrication is used for the module’s mirrors. Sandwich fabrication is the most efficient structure for resisting the wind, the highest force a solar panel must withstand.
Conventional PV solar panels capture 20% of the sun’s energy as electricity. In the FourFold module, four mirrors concentrate the sunlight into a narrow strip of overhead PV cells, capturing just as much electricity. More important, coolant pumped through the absorber captures an additional 55% of the sun’s energy as heat. Altogether, the FourFold collects 75% of the sun’s energy, 500 W of electricity and 1500 W of heat for 2000 W total.
The attached shed stores energy overnight: heat in an insulated tank and electricity in batteries. With low costs and high efficiency solar capture, payback can be as low as 2 years.
Focused Sun founder Rene Francis (Hallsberg, Sweden) said, “This solar technology can outperform anything else you could find in the world. And the best part is it can be built locally.” Referring to Princeton University’s eight stabilization wedges needed to avoid global warming, he adds,
If PV solar is one Princeton wedge, then this technology is four wedges. That’s half the global warming problem.