?New "hybrid" solar panel created; serial production expected by next year

According to the parties, the panel "significantly improves" the efficiency of photovoltaic (PV) installations. They say that the combination of the new solar modules with a heat pump and a geothermal probe in a complete system both raises the efficiency factor of the solar panels and ensures optimum heat utilization.

They add that the new concept lowers electricity consumption "significantly" and makes low-cost emission-free operation possible. ?

?The system, which was developed by Professor Leibundgut at the ETH, reportedly means surplus heat from solar power generated in summer can be stored using a geothermal probe in the ground, re-utilizing it in the cold months via a thermal pump.

As Professor Leibundgut explains: "The underground heat store is replenished by the surplus heat, thus allowing the heat pump, which extracts heat from the ground, to operate to a significantly higher level of efficiency. The cooling system provides a knock-on effect by raising the efficiency of the PV panels which in turn increases electricity yield." ? ?

Dr. Patrick Hofer-Noser, chief technology officer at the Meyer Burger Group, emphasizes the advantage of the holistic energy solution. "This new system enables us to build PV systems even more easily and efficiently; this applies also to renovation projects." ? ?

A prototype of the PV panels, which also supply heat, has already been developed. A number of tests have yielded "promising results". The companies say that the hybrid panels are being tested with other components of building technology as part of the "B 35" pilot project of the Swiss Federal Office of Energy.

Following completion of extensive field tests, 3S Swiss Solar Systems says it is planning serial production of the hybrid collectors at the end of next year and will market them under the 3S Photovoltaics brand. It also plans to grant licenses to panel manufacturers around the world.