Scalable Solar Thermoelectrics and Photovoltaics

This project aims at developing a household system that harvests energy from the sun, producing both electrical and thermal energy for direct use or storage.

We will create innovative devices that will integrate several renewable and sustainable technologies (PV and thermoelectric). Solar collectors will be used to enhance both the production of electrical energy from the PV cell and the collection/removal of heat. The thermoelectric device will be used both in power generating mode (TEG) and in heat pumping mode (THP), to increase the overall electrical power production. New thermal coupling concepts will improve heat transfer.

Power electronic converters will deal with electrical power extraction (PV, TEG) and supply (THP), controlled in maximum power point tracking (MPPT) or maximum efficiency tracking (MEPT) modes

A centralised control system will decide the operating strategy depending time of day/year and energy use, storage and requirements.

Vision

Our vision is to undertake an ambitious research programme which dramatically reduces the cost of large scale exploitation of solar energy. The systems-led project will enhance state-of-the-art collection efficiency and simultaneously extend useful panel lifetime beyond 50 years.


System Overview

The project combines photovoltaic and thermoelectric technology with thermal storage and sophisticated energy management techniques to create an electrothermal panel. Installed system capacity will be scalable, from a several kW for domestic application to many MW for grid-connected infrastructure.