WO2018138238A1 - A photovoltaic panel mounting structure - Google Patents

A photovoltaic panel mounting structure Download PDF

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Publication number
WO2018138238A1
WO2018138238A1 PCT/EP2018/051912 EP2018051912W WO2018138238A1 WO 2018138238 A1 WO2018138238 A1 WO 2018138238A1 EP 2018051912 W EP2018051912 W EP 2018051912W WO 2018138238 A1 WO2018138238 A1 WO 2018138238A1
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WO
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Patent type
Prior art keywords
mounting structure
panel mounting
photovoltaic panel
photovoltaic
enclosure
Prior art date
Application number
PCT/EP2018/051912
Other languages
French (fr)
Inventor
Knud Erik Andersen
Original Assignee
Kea Holding I Aps
Priority date (The priority date is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the date listed.)
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Publication date

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Classifications

    • HELECTRICITY
    • H02GENERATION; CONVERSION OR DISTRIBUTION OF ELECTRIC POWER
    • H02SGENERATION OF ELECTRIC POWER BY CONVERSION OF INFRA-RED RADIATION, VISIBLE LIGHT OR ULTRAVIOLET LIGHT, E.G. USING PHOTOVOLTAIC [PV] MODULES
    • H02S40/00Components or accessories in combination with PV modules, not provided for in groups H02S10/00 - H02S30/00
    • H02S40/40Thermal components
    • H02S40/44Means to utilise heat energy, e.g. hybrid systems producing warm water and electricity at the same time
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H01BASIC ELECTRIC ELEMENTS
    • H01LSEMICONDUCTOR DEVICES; ELECTRIC SOLID STATE DEVICES NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • H01L31/00Semiconductor devices sensitive to infra-red radiation, light, electromagnetic radiation of shorter wavelength or corpuscular radiation and adapted either for the conversion of the energy of such radiation into electrical energy or for the control of electrical energy by such radiation; Processes or apparatus peculiar to the manufacture or treatment thereof or of parts thereof; Details thereof
    • H01L31/04Semiconductor devices sensitive to infra-red radiation, light, electromagnetic radiation of shorter wavelength or corpuscular radiation and adapted either for the conversion of the energy of such radiation into electrical energy or for the control of electrical energy by such radiation; Processes or apparatus peculiar to the manufacture or treatment thereof or of parts thereof; Details thereof adapted as photovoltaic [PV] conversion devices
    • H01L31/052Cooling means directly associated or integrated with the PV cell, e.g. integrated Peltier elements for active cooling or heat sinks directly associated with the PV cells
    • H01L31/0525Cooling means directly associated or integrated with the PV cell, e.g. integrated Peltier elements for active cooling or heat sinks directly associated with the PV cells including means to utilise heat energy directly associated with the PV cell, e.g. integrated Seebeck elements
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H02GENERATION; CONVERSION OR DISTRIBUTION OF ELECTRIC POWER
    • H02SGENERATION OF ELECTRIC POWER BY CONVERSION OF INFRA-RED RADIATION, VISIBLE LIGHT OR ULTRAVIOLET LIGHT, E.G. USING PHOTOVOLTAIC [PV] MODULES
    • H02S20/00Supporting structures for PV modules
    • H02S20/10Supporting structures directly fixed to the ground

Abstract

This invention relates to a photovoltaic panel mounting structure (100), the photovoltaic panel mounting structure (100) comprising one or more photovoltaic panels (104), one or more support structures (102, 103, 106) adapted to support the one or more photovoltaic panels (104) on the ground (101), wherein the photovoltaic panel mounting structure (100) further comprises at least one enclosure (105) comprising an enclosed gaseous medium wherein the at least one enclosure (105) is located so that at least a part of solar energy being subjected to the one or more photovoltaic panels (104) is transferred to the enclosed gaseous medium as thermal energy, and comprises or is connected to an energy transfer unit (111), the energy transfer unit (111) being configured for receiving at least a part of the enclosed gaseous medium and transferring thermal energy from a received part of the gaseous medium to a further medium.

Description

A Photovoltaic Panel Mounting Structure Field of the invention

The present invention relates generally to a photovoltaic panel mounting structure comprising one or more photovoltaic panels and one or more support structures adapted to support the one or more photovoltaic panels on the ground. More specifically, the present invention relates to an outdoor photovoltaic panel mounting structure for typically large-scale solar parks, solar farms, PV plants, etc. comprising one or more photovoltaic panels and one or more support structures adapted to support the one or more photovoltaic panels on the ground. Background

The use of photovoltaic (PV) panels has been and is still increasing in relation to supplying electricity based on a renewable energy source. Such PV panels may be arranged as a photovoltaic panel mounting structure e.g. in smaller or larger arrays, rows, grids, layouts, etc., often also referred to as solar parks, solar farms, PV plants, etc. As generally known, the PV panels may be arranged on tilt structures or similar defining an angle and a general direction of respective PV panels in relation to incoming solar irradiation. Some tilt structures are fixed (once installed) locking the respective angle and the direction while other tilt structures dynamically may adjust the angle and/or general direction of respective PV panels during the day to increase or optimise the amount of solar irradiation that the respective PV panels are exposed to.

The solar irradiation level typically varies from about a few hundred kWh (kilo watt hour) per square meter annually at northern regions of the world to more than about 2.000 kWh per square meter annually at the most sunny regions. Ongoing development of PV technology has improved the resulting harvest of energy from the sun by increasing the efficiency of converting the solar irradiation to electrical power. For instance, during the period from 2006 to 2016 the efficiency typically increased from approximately about 15% to about 18% for polycrystalline PV panels and from about 17% to about 20% for monocrystalline PV panels. For a typical PV plant with fixed tilt structures, an annual production per installed kWp capacity varies from around 1 .000 kWh per kWp (kilo watt peak) capacity to around 2.000 kWh per kWp capacity.

However, in spite of many improvements made within this area, a PV panel will still typically only convert about 15% - about 20% of the received solar irradiation energy into electrical power even under the best of circumstances. Future advancements of current PV panel technology may, and probably will, improve further on this, but probably not in a truly substantial way. As the solar energy source is freely available, a typical solution for increasing energy output is e.g. often simply to install additional PV panels if the required space is available.

Summary

It is an object to provide a photovoltaic panel mounting structure configured to be located on the ground that provides increased (typically large-scale) capture of solar energy and thereby increased output of electrical power and total harvested energy in particular for an outdoor relatively large-scale solar park, solar farm, PV plant, or the like.

Additionally, an objective is to provide this in a cost-effective, simple, and/or readily scalable way.

An aspect of the invention is defined in claim 1 . Accordingly, in one aspect, one or more of these objects is/are achieved at least to an extent by an outdoor typically large-scale photovoltaic panel mounting structure where the photovoltaic panel mounting structure comprises one or more

photovoltaic panels and one or more support structures adapted to support, directly or indirectly, the one or more or a plurality of photovoltaic panels on a substantially flat surface being the ground or alternatively a foundation on the ground, an offshore foundation, etc., where the photovoltaic panel mounting structure is (to be) located. The photovoltaic panels are, at least in some embodiments, generally located on the upper side of the photovoltaic panel mounting structure thereby more readily being exposed directly to the sun. Additionally, the photovoltaic panel mounting structure further comprises at least one enclosure comprising an enclosed gaseous medium. The gaseous medium may e.g. be atmospheric air, one or more other gases, and/or mixtures thereof. The enclosure is located so that at least a part of solar energy being subjected to the one or more photovoltaic panels (and/or being subjected to the photovoltaic panel mounting structure) is transferred, directly or indirectly, to the enclosed gaseous medium as thermal energy (heat). Additionally, the enclosure is located, at least in some embodiments, under the photovoltaic panels (on the side of the photovoltaic panels facing away from the sun). It is an advantage that the enclosure is quite spacious since that allows for a large volume of the enclosed gaseous medium. Furthermore, the photovoltaic panel mounting structure comprises or is connected to a (i.e. at least one or more) energy transfer unit where the energy transfer unit is configured for receiving at least a part of the enclosed gaseous medium and transferring thermal energy from a received part of the gaseous medium to a further medium. The energy transfer unit may at least in some embodiments (where it is not comprised by the photovoltaic panel mounting structure) be located adjacent to the the photovoltaic panel mounting structure. The further medium may e.g. be water or alternatively another fluid medium. At least in some embodiments, the part of the enclosed gaseous medium that is received by the energy transfer unit is returned again - after transferring thermal energy - to the enclosure. It is to be understood, that the enclosure comprising the enclosed gaseous medium in this context is different from more open enclosures and/or enclosures with a more active and/or ongoing airflow passing through them - even if some of it is received by the energy transfer unit it will typically be a small proportion of the total volume of the enclosed gaseous medium (before, at least in some embodiments, being returned to the enclosure). It is an advantage for the build-up of thermal energy that there is no or relatively little active or ongoing airflow for the gaseous medium compared to the overall volume of the gaseous medium.

Traditionally, trapping thermal energy below or near photovoltaic panels in such a way is generally avoided since increased heat diminishes the effectiveness of the photovoltaic panels. An enclosure may e.g. be partitioned into several smaller enclosures whereby a photovoltaic panel mounting structure then comprises several enclosures comprising enclosed gaseous medium.

As mentioned, roughly only about 15% to about 20%, or in any event a relatively small part, of the solar energy being exposed to PV panels of a photovoltaic panel mounting structure is actually converted into electrical power by the photovoltaic panels. Typically about 35% to about 40% of the received solar energy is reflected leaving a remaining part of about 40% to about 50%. The remaining part of about 40% to about 50% would traditionally be exchanged with air surrounding the PV panels and 'disappear' or dissipate.

However, according to this aspect of the present invention, a significant proportion of the remaining 40% to about 50% of solar energy is absorbed or captured by the enclosed gaseous medium as thermal energy, which then can be put to use instead of simply being 'wasted'. This increases the overall energy output, in the form of electrical power and thermal energy, of the photovoltaic panel mounting structure. Additionally, the advantages are amplified for large-scale photovoltaic panel mounting structure as these typically readily enable a large volume of gaseous medium to capture thermal energy. Smaller facilities will generally not be able to capture enough energy to be worthwhile in a significant way. The energy transfer unit will transfer thermal energy from a received part of the enclosed gaseous medium to a further medium enabling the thermal energy to distributed or provided to where it may be put to use.

The specific percentages mentioned about may vary according to type of photovoltaic panels and/or e.g. other external factors but in any event, a relatively large proportion of the solar energy is available for being obtained and effectively captured as thermal energy by the enclosed gaseous medium, which then may be transferred further on for use.

The costs of providing such a photovoltaic panel mounting structure are relatively low since it may be established with little additional components, etc. compared to existing photovoltaic panel mounting structures. In addition, it is a very scalable solution.

The one or more photovoltaic panels may e.g. be of the monocrystalline type, the polycrystalline type, thin film based solar cells, or any other suitable photovoltaic technology or combinations thereof. The ground (that the the photovoltaic panel mounting structure is located on) may be onshore or alternatively be an offshore artificial generally planar surface.

In some embodiments, the photovoltaic panel mounting structure is a so-called fixed tilt structure. In alternative embodiments, the photovoltaic panel mounting structure is a dynamic tilt structure configured for dynamically adjusting the angle and/or general direction of respective PV panels during the day to increase or optimise the amount of solar irradiation that the respective PV panels are exposed to. Dynamic tilt structures are e.g. also typically referred to as mono axis (in cases with one degree of freedom with respect to movement) or dual axis (in cases with two degrees of freedom) trackers.

Preferably, the gaseous medium is atmospheric air, which is readily available and does not have any associated costs. In addition, atmospheric air has good and usable thermal energy absorbing and retaining capabilities.

In some embodiments, the energy transfer unit is a gas to liquid energy transfer unit. This enables an efficient transfer of the thermal energy from the gaseous medium to a further liquid medium. Alternatively, the energy transfer unit is a gas to gas energy transfer unit.

In some further embodiments, the energy transfer unit is a heat pump or e.g. more specifically a gas or air to water (or liquid) heat pump. Such air to water heat pumps are often very efficient and may have an SCOP (seasonal coefficient of

performance) factor of about 5, signifying that they, on average, deliver about 5 times as much energy than the electrical energy needed to run them.

In connection with air to water heat pumps, the temperature of the enclosed gaseous medium may e.g. be reduced by about 10° to about 15° Celsius e.g. from about 35° to about 20° Celsius and may supply outgoing water with a temperature of about 65° Celsius, which e.g. readily may be used in connection with district heating or other heating systems.

Air being heated as disclosed above and herein and being used by a heat pump has the further advantage that it will increase the SCOP factor of the heat pump compared to using 'ordinary' ambient air (i.e. not heated as disclosed above and herein) as warmer air generally will increase the SCOP factor, so the efficiency of the heat pump is increased.

In some further embodiments, the energy transfer unit is powered by electricity generated by at least some of the one or more photovoltaic panels. A circuit including an inverter or the like may e.g. connect the photovoltaic panels, normally producing DC current, to the energy transfer unit.

In some embodiments, the photovoltaic panel mounting structure comprises one or more conduits, pipes, or the like comprising at least a part of the further medium and being in fluid communication with (an energy receiving side) of the energy transfer unit. Alternatively, the conduits, pipes, or the like can be external to the photovoltaic panel mounting structure. The one or more conduits, pipes, or the like may e.g. go into the ground (at least at some point) or run, fully or partly, along inside or outside the photovoltaic panel mounting structure. What is significant is that the conduits, pipes, or the like can supply and receive the further medium to and from the energy transfer unit(s) in order to obtain energy and supply that energy elsewhere.

The conduits, pipes, or the like may e.g. be connected to one or more heat exchangers (i.e. the further medium is in fluid connection with the heat

exchanger(s)) to transfer the thermal energy further on and e.g. providing a closed loop system with respect to the further medium. In some embodiments, at least a part of the further medium is in energy transferring connection (e.g. via one or more heat exchangers) with an external seasonal thermal storage comprising a container, e.g. insulated container, comprising a liquid energy storage medium, e.g. water or another suitable medium. In this way, the thermal energy may be provided to and stored in the seasonal thermal storage until a greater demand for heat arises, i.e. the seasonal thermal storage acts as a buffer e.g. for several months or longer if the container is sufficiently insulated.

The thermal energy may e.g. be provided to the seasonal thermal storage during the summer or generally warmer months and transferred on for use, e.g. by district heating facilities, during the winter or generally colder months. It is noted, that thermal energy is still obtained as disclosed herein during colder months but only less so. In some embodiments, at least some of the one or more support structures comprise a first support part and a second support part where the first support part supports at least some of the one or more photovoltaic panels and the second support part supports the first support part. A first support part may e.g. be a frame or similar that one or more photovoltaic panels is attached to, on, or in. In some embodiments, a first support part may e.g. comprise a sheet, plate, etc. of steel or another suitable material located under the PV panels. A second support part may e.g. be support legs, struts, beams, rods, bars, etc. supporting one or more first support parts. A second support part may e.g. be made of or comprise a wooden, metallic, or other suitable material. In some embodiments, the first and the second support parts (or at least some of them) may be integrated with each other. In other embodiments, the first and the second support parts are distinct from each other but then secured, e.g. welded or fixed in another way, to each other. A first support pay may e.g. also simply rest on a second support part. In some embodiments, at least some of the one or more support structures comprise one or more third support parts supporting one or more second support parts. A third support part may e.g. be made of concrete or similar resistant material.

In some embodiments, the photovoltaic panel mounting structure comprises one or more insulation elements that reduces losses of thermal energy from the at least one enclosure. In some further embodiments, the one or more insulation elements defines, at least in part, the at least one enclosure. The one or more insulation elements may e.g. be integrated with or be a part of (e.g. some of) the one or more support structures. The one or more insulation elements may e.g. also be (e.g. some of) the one or more support structures. In some embodiments, the one or more insulation elements defines the at least one enclosure together with at least a part of the one or more support structures and/or at least a part of a surface of the one or more photovoltaic panels.

One or more insulation elements may e.g. also be located on the ground, i.e. 'under' the photovoltaic panel mounting structure. In some embodiments, the circumference of photovoltaic panel mounting structure comprises one or more insulation elements e.g. for a photovoltaic panel mounting structure comprising PV panels arranged adjacent to each other such as in rows/columns. This simplifies the construction of the photovoltaic panel mounting structure.

The one or more insulation elements may e.g. comprise one or more selected from the group consisting of:

- cloth or another fabric,

- rockwool or mineral wool,

- a flexible material,

- a waterproof or water resistant material, and

- waterproof or water resistant wooden boards or sheets.

In general, any suitable insulation material as traditionally used in the construction industry may be used.

Using insulation elements being flexible is e.g. an advantage in connection with photovoltaic panel mounting structures being dynamic tilt structures as the flexibility readily allows for the movement of the PV panels. Insulation elements not being flexible may still be used in connection with dynamic tilt structures but the design needs to accommodate the movement while keeping the enclosure enclosed.

In some embodiments, the one or more insulation elements comprises a flexible waterproof or flexible water resistant material and are secured to the photovoltaic panel mounting structure (e.g. at the top of it) along a circumference of the photovoltaic panel mounting structure and hanging from there onto the ground thereby enclosing a volume of (atmospheric) air between the photovoltaic panel mounting structure and the ground as the at least one enclosure.

In some embodiments, at least some of the one or more photovoltaic panels are arranged so that they have cross-section (seen from a side of the photovoltaic panel mounting structure) generally being a consecutive shape of v-shapes, a consecutive shape of upside-down v-shapes, a saw-tooth shape, or similar; e.g. with gaps in- between. In some embodiments, at least some of the one or more photovoltaic panels are arranged in a planar configuration (e.g. on or at least supported by the first support part) with a space or gap between the respective photovoltaic panels. Traditionally, such a space or gap is typically minimised or fully avoided to increase the surface area of the photovoltaic panels as much as possible for the given space. However, in the present context, this allows for thermal energy to be absorbed or obtained by the gaseous medium of the at least one enclosure more readily.

In some embodiments, the photovoltaic panel mounting structure comprises one or more controllable ventilation elements connecting at least one enclosure with external ambient air and wherein the one or more controllable ventilation elements is configured to open for external ambient air when a determined temperature of the gaseous medium is above a predetermined threshold and otherwise close for external ambient air. This may e.g. be an advantage if the temperature of the gaseous medium is too high since the effectiveness (i.e. the capability of converting solar energy into electrical power) of photovoltaic panels generally is diminished when being too warm. The same (diminished effectiveness when being too warm) may e.g. be the case for the energy transfer unit(s). Certain heat pumps, as an example, operate best with a gaseous medium having a maximum temperature of about 35° Celsius. In some embodiments, the photovoltaic panel mounting structure comprises one or more controllable ventilation elements connecting at least one enclosure with external ambient air and wherein the one or more controllable ventilation elements is configured to open for external ambient air when a determined temperature of the gaseous medium is below a determined temperature of the external ambient air. This allows for drawing in warmer outside air into the at least one enclosure when the outside temperature is higher than the temperature of the enclosed gaseous medium thereby readily increasing the thermal energy of the gaseous medium.

The respective temperatures may e.g. be obtained by one or more appropriate temperature sensors. In some embodiments, the photovoltaic panel mounting structure may also comprise one or more additional controllable ventilation elements located elsewhere e.g. located at or near the opposite end of the first support part (i.e. closer towards the ground). Generally, the one or more controllable ventilation elements may be used regardless of what type the one or more insulation elements are and/or how the enclosure is established. One or more of the ventilation elements, e.g. the one(s) located closest to the ground, may be passive ventilation elements such as passive air intakes that may draw air in when the one or more additional controllable ventilation elements are opened.

In some embodiments, e.g. in combination with embodiments comprising one or more controllable ventilation elements, the photovoltaic panel mounting structure further comprises circulation elements configured for circulating the enclosed gaseous medium (inside the enclosure). The circulation elements may e.g. be powered by at least some of the one or more photovoltaic panels.

In some embodiments, the photovoltaic panel mounting structure comprises a number of walls portioning the at least one enclosure into several separate enclosures where at least one energy transfer unit is located in each separate enclosure and being configured for receiving a gaseous medium from one enclosure and expel it into a neighbouring enclosure.

It is to be noted that the photovoltaic panel mounting structure may comprise one or more photovoltaic panels that are not supported by the one or more support structures mentioned above and elsewhere herein and/or the photovoltaic panel mounting structure may comprise one or more support structures (of the same or a different type) that does not support the one or more photovoltaic panels, but at least one photovoltaic panel is supported by at least one support structure as mentioned above and elsewhere herein.

According to another aspect of the present invention is provided a method of distributing electricity generated by a photovoltaic panel mounting structure, e.g. or preferably a photovoltaic panel mounting structure as disclosed herein, wherein the method comprises the steps of: - obtaining or providing a data value representing a current available market price pr. unit of electricity, and

- distributing electricity generated by the photovoltaic panel mounting structure to an electrical supply or distribution network if the data value is above a predetermined threshold and distributing at least a part of electricity generated by the photovoltaic panel mounting structure to the energy transfer unit if the data value is below the predetermined threshold.

The current available market price pr. unit of electricity (sometimes also referred to as a spot-price for electricity) generally fluctuates, even hourly, depending on current production and demand for electricity. According to this aspect, it is possible to distribute the electricity to the power grid, the electrical supply or distribution network, etc. when the available market price is above the predetermined threshold and distribute the electricity for using the energy transfer unit to extract or transfer thermal energy from the enclosed gaseous medium when the available market price is below the predetermined threshold.

The determination of where and when to distribute the electricity may e.g. be made automatically, semi-automatically, or even manually. In this way, it is possible to control delivery of generated electricity to where the benefit will be greatest.

Additionally, it is possible to obtain value (extracting or transferring thermal energy from the enclosed gaseous medium) of otherwise low value electricity due to a current low market price.

The predetermined threshold should reflect a value of using the generated electricity according to present invention to extract or transfer thermal energy from the enclosed gaseous medium. The predetermined threshold may also change and need not be static.

According to a further aspect of the present invention is provided a photovoltaic plant configured to be located outside on the ground, where the photovoltaic plant comprises one or more photovoltaic panel mounting structure as disclosed herein.

According to another aspect of the present invention is provided a method of retro- fitting a photovoltaic panel mounting structure, the photovoltaic panel mounting structure comprising - one or more photovoltaic panels, and

- optionally one or more support structures adapted to support the one or more photovoltaic panels on the ground, wherein the method comprises the steps of:

- establishing at least one enclosure comprising an enclosed gaseous medium wherein the at least one enclosure is located so that at least a part of solar energy being subjected to the one or more photovoltaic panels is transferred to the enclosed gaseous medium as thermal energy, and

- providing an energy transfer unit and connecting the energy transfer unit for receiving at least a part of the enclosed gaseous medium and transferring thermal energy from a received part of the gaseous medium to a further medium.

In this way, it is possible to provide the advantages as disclosed herein even for existing photovoltaic panel mounting structures requiring little modification and costs. Since many existing traditional photovoltaic panel mounting structures comprises the one or more photovoltaic panels located at the top of the structure on a frame, sheet, plate, etc. it is relatively simple to establish the at least one enclosure e.g. by sealing off the area under the one or more photovoltaic panels. This also ensures efficient and readily transfer of thermal energy to the enclosed gaseous medium from at least a part of the solar energy that is subjected to the one or more photovoltaic panels. As disclosed herein, the gaseous medium may be atmospheric air, which further simplifies the retro-fit method.

In some embodiments, the step of establishing at least one enclosure comprises securing one or more insulation elements to outer or circumferential ends of the photovoltaic panel mounting structure. In this way, the at least one enclosure is established in a simple way.

In some embodiments, the one or more insulation elements comprise a flexible waterproof or flexible water resistant material. Examples include cloth, fabric, or other suitable material. Some further embodiments and advantages are mentioned throughout the present specification in relation to the Figures and are meant to be included here.

According at least to some aspects/embodiments, the photovoltaic panel mounting structure as disclosed herein specifically is not a roof and/or wall mounted photovoltaic panel structure, i.e. these are disclaimed (at least according to some aspects/embodiments).

Definitions

All headings and sub-headings are used herein for convenience only and should not be constructed as limiting the invention in any way.

The use of any and all examples, or exemplary language provided herein, is intended merely to better illuminate the invention and does not pose a limitation on the scope of the invention unless otherwise claimed. No language in the

specification should be construed as indicating any non-claimed element as essential to the practice of the invention.

This invention includes all modifications and equivalents of the subject matter recited in the claims appended hereto as permitted by applicable law.

Brief description of the drawings

Figures 1 a and 1 b schematically illustrate a side and front view, respectively, of one example of a photovoltaic panel mounting structure e.g. arranged according to an array of panels;

Figures 2a and 2b schematically illustrate a side and front view, respectively, of another example of a photovoltaic panel mounting structure e.g. arranged according to an array of panels;

Figure 3 schematically illustrates a side view of another configuration of the photovoltaic panel mounting structure of Figures 2a and 2b with panels being arranged 'back to back'; Figures 4a - 4c schematically illustrate a respective side view of different embodiments of a photovoltaic panel mounting structure as disclosed herein;

Figure 5 schematically illustrates a side view of another embodiment of a

photovoltaic panel mounting structure as disclosed herein; Figure 6 schematically illustrates a perspective view of the complete photovoltaic panel mounting structure of Figure 5;

Figure 7 schematically illustrates a perspective view of the photovoltaic panel mounting structure of Figure 6 illustrating one or more insulation elements forming at least a part of an enclosure comprising an enclosed gaseous medium as disclosed herein;

Figure 8 schematically illustrates a side view of another embodiment of a

photovoltaic panel mounting structure as disclosed herein;

Figure 9 schematically illustrates a perspective view of the photovoltaic panel mounting structure of Figure 8; Figure 10 schematically illustrates a perspective view of yet another embodiment of a photovoltaic panel mounting structure as disclosed herein;

Figures 1 1 a and 1 1 b schematically illustrate respective side views of different embodiments of a photovoltaic panel mounting structure as disclosed herein;

Figures 12a and 12b schematically illustrate different embodiments of a photovoltaic panel mounting structure as disclosed herein with insulation elements well suited for retro-fitting an existing photovoltaic panel mounting structure;

Figure 13 schematically illustrates a side view of a further embodiment of a photovoltaic panel mounting structure as disclosed herein comprising one or more ventilation elements; and Figure 14 schematically illustrates a top view of a photovoltaic panel mounting structure together with an illustrated air flow according to an embodiment of a photovoltaic panel mounting structure as disclosed herein. Detailed description

Various aspects and embodiments of a photovoltaic panel mounting structure, a method of retro-fitting a photovoltaic panel mounting structure, and a method of distributing electricity generated by a photovoltaic panel mounting structure as disclosed herein will now be described with reference to the figures.

When/if relative expressions such as "upper" and "lower", "right" and "left",

"horizontal" and "vertical", "clockwise" and "counter clockwise" or similar are used in the following, these terms typically refer to the appended figures and not necessarily to an actual situation of use. The shown figures are schematic representations for which reason the configuration of the different structures as well as their relative dimensions are intended to serve illustrative purposes.

Some of the different components are only disclosed in relation to a single embodiment of the invention, but is meant to be included in the other embodiments without further explanation. Figures 1 a and 1 b schematically illustrate a side and front view, respectively, of one example of a photovoltaic panel mounting structure e.g. arranged according to an array of panels.

Illustrated is an outdoor photovoltaic panel mounting structure 100 suitable for large scale energy production as generally known comprising a number, often quite a large number, of separate photovoltaic panel modules or units e.g. arranged in suitable arrays, rows, grids, layouts, etc. as generally known. In this example, each module or unit comprises a number of one or more photovoltaic panels 104 and one or more support structures 102, 103 adapted to support the photovoltaic panels 104 on the ground 101 . The one or more support structures, in this example, comprises a first support part 103 and a second support part 102 where the first support part 103 supports the photovoltaic panels 104 and the second support part 102 supports the first support part 103 and is e.g. fixed (after installation) into or located on the ground 101. The first support part 103 may e.g. be a frame or the like having a particular inclination optimising the received solar energy as generally known. Even though the photovoltaic panels 104 are shown with some spacing, here between rows of panels, they may be located right next to each other as an aim often is to increase the active area of the photovoltaic panels 104 as much as possible in relation to the overall surface area, here the overall surface area of the first support part 103.

Figures 2a and 2b schematically illustrate a side and front view, respectively, of another example of a photovoltaic panel mounting structure e.g. arranged according to an array of panels.

Illustrated is a photovoltaic panel mounting structure 100 corresponding to the one in Figures 2a and 2b except that the support structures 102, 103, in particular the second support part 102, and that the shape of the photovoltaic panels 104 are different.

Figure 3 schematically illustrates a side view of another configuration of the photovoltaic panel mounting structure of Figures 2a and 2b with panels being arranged 'back to back' (or 'front to front'). It might just as well be panels of Figures 1 a and 1 b - or another type - that are arranged back to back.

Such arrangements may e.g. be aligned in a generally east-west direction to optimise the amount of received solar energy.

Figures 4a - 4c schematically illustrate a respective side view of different embodiments of a photovoltaic panel mounting structure as disclosed herein.

Illustrated are various embodiments of a photovoltaic panel mounting structure 100 according to an aspect of the present invention.

Illustrated in Figure 4a is a photovoltaic panel mounting structure 100 corresponding to the one of Figure 1 a that further comprises at least one enclosure 105, here one enclosure as an example, where the enclosure 105 contains an enclosed gaseous medium, preferably simply atmospheric air being present when constructing the photovoltaic panel mounting structure 100. The at least one enclosure 105 is located so that at least a part of solar energy being subjected to the one or more photovoltaic panels 104 is transferred to the enclosed gaseous medium as thermal energy (i.e. heat).

Due to being enclosed, this thermal energy is effectively obtained and captured (even given losses) and can be put to other uses. Accordingly, it is possible to obtain more energy from the sun compared to standard photovoltaic panel mounting structures where the energy, now being captured, otherwise would simply

'disappear' or dissipate.

The photovoltaic panel mounting structure 100 further comprises one or more energy transfer units 1 1 1 that at least during operation ongoingly receives some of the enclosed gaseous medium - with the obtained thermal energy - and transfers the thermal energy to another further medium, e.g. water. The further medium may e.g. be comprised by one or more conduits or pipes 1 12 in fluid communication with the one or more energy transfer units 1 1 1 . Preferably, the energy transfer unit(s) 1 1 1 is/are heat pump(s), and more particularly air (or gas) to water (or liquid) heat pump(s), that may be supplied with electricity generated by at least some of the photovoltaic panels 104, e.g. supplied by an inverter and other electrical circuitry (see e.g. 1 13 in Figure 4c). It is not uncommon for such air to water heat pumps to have an SCOP (seasonal coefficient of performance) rating of about 5, signifying that they, on average, deliver about 5 times as much energy than the energy of the electricity needed to operate them. Alternatively, the energy transfer unit(s) 1 1 1 is/are gas to gas energy transfer unit(s).

The heated water may then be transported elsewhere for use, e.g. in district heating or other heating systems, and may e.g. be connected for fluid communication with one or more heat exchangers as generally known.

During manufacture of the photovoltaic panel mounting structure 100, the enclosure 105 may be established or provided simply by closing off the volume (or a part thereof) between the photovoltaic panel mounting structure 100 and the ground 101. In some embodiments, one or more insulation elements 1 10 as disclosed herein is/are used for this purpose thereby both providing the enclosure but also insulating the thermal energy of the enclosed gaseous medium. The one or more insulation elements 1 10 may also be used to support the photovoltaic panel mounting structure 100 or parts thereof and/or are preferably, at least in some embodiments, waterproof or water resistant. The one or more insulation elements may e.g.

comprise cloth or another suitable fabric, rockwool or mineral wool, etc. The ground may be onshore or alternatively be an offshore artificial generally planar surface.

Illustrated in Figure 4b is a photovoltaic panel mounting structure 100 corresponding to the one of Figure 4a but where a photovoltaic panel mounting structure 100 corresponding to the one of Figure 1 b is used instead of one corresponding to Figure 1 a.

Likewise for Figure 4c, illustrating an embodiment according to an aspect of the present invention for a photovoltaic panel mounting structure 100 corresponding to the one of Figure 3 giving the photovoltaic panel mounting structure 100 a cross- section as shown having an upside-down v-shape or similar. Illustrated in Figure 4c is also an inverter and other electrical circuitry 1 13.

Figure 5 schematically illustrates a side view of another embodiment of a

photovoltaic panel mounting structure as disclosed herein.

Illustrated is a photovoltaic panel mounting structure 100 generally corresponding to the one of Figure 4c and as disclosed herein with differences to Figure 4c being that the one or more support structures 102, 103 are different in numbers and shape as well as being arranged differently (e.g. for structural integrity), the photovoltaic panel mounting structure 100 comprises a walkway or similar 107, the lengths of the respective first support parts 103 forming the (upside-down) v-shape is not equal, that the one or more support structures comprises a number of third support parts 106 supporting the second support parts 102, and that the one or more support structures comprises one or more bars, struts, rods, or other type of rigid connection elements 1 15 respectively connecting and stabilising different parts of respective first support parts 103.

The third support parts 106 enables the second support parts 102 to not be in contact with the ground. The third support parts 106 may e.g. be made of concrete or similar resistant materials while the second support parts 102 then e.g. made be made of wood.

As can be seen, the photovoltaic panel mounting structure 100 extends both left and right with similar elements. No insulation elements (see e.g. 1 10 elsewhere) is shown since, at least in some embodiments, these are located at the circumference of photovoltaic panel mounting structure (see e.g. Figure 7).

The walkway or similar 107 may e.g. be used during maintenance.

Figure 6 schematically illustrates a perspective view of the complete photovoltaic panel mounting structure of Figure 5 still without the one or more insulation elements. In this figure, 105 denotes the enclosure as it will be once the insulation elements are installed.

Figure 7 schematically illustrates a perspective view of the photovoltaic panel mounting structure of Figure 6 illustrating one or more insulation elements forming at least a part of an enclosure comprising an enclosed gaseous medium as disclosed herein. Illustrated are one or more insulation elements 1 10 located along the whole circumference of the photovoltaic panel mounting structure 100 forming (together with the ground and the first support parts) the enclosure comprising the gaseous medium.

Figure 8 schematically illustrates a side view of another embodiment of a

photovoltaic panel mounting structure as disclosed herein. This embodiments does not comprise any second support parts 102 and provides a more open space under the PV panels and the first support parts 103 enabling more free room for moving within the photovoltaic panel mounting structure 100 e.g. when performing maintenance, etc. As shown, the embodiment also comprises a number of stabilising connection elements 1 15.

Figure 9 schematically illustrates a perspective view of the photovoltaic panel mounting structure of Figure 8, shown before the enclosure is fully formed. In this figure, 105 denotes the enclosure as it will be once the insulation elements are installed. Figure 10 schematically illustrates a perspective view of yet another embodiment of a photovoltaic panel mounting structure as disclosed herein. This embodiment has different second support parts 102 arranged differently than shown previously in a zig-zag pattern. Figures 1 1 a and 1 1 b schematically illustrate respective side views of different embodiments of a photovoltaic panel mounting structure 100 as disclosed herein.

Illustrated are two different embodiments (only differing by the orientation of the photovoltaic panels at respective ends of the photovoltaic panel mounting structure 100) illustrating the photovoltaic panels being arranged so that they have cross- section generally being a consecutive shape of v-shapes, a consecutive shape of upside-down v-shapes, or a saw-tooth shape.

As can be seen 1 10 only the ends or circumference of the photovoltaic panel mounting structure 100 needs to be sealed off by insulation elements 1 10 to form the enclosure comprising the gaseous medium. Figures 12a and 12b schematically illustrate different embodiments of a photovoltaic panel mounting structure as disclosed herein with insulation elements well suited for retro-fitting an existing photovoltaic panel mounting structure.

Illustrated, as examples, are the photovoltaic panel mounting structures 100 of Figures 1 and 2 that has been retrofitted to take advantage of an aspect of the present invention.

The illustrated photovoltaic panel mounting structures 100 have been retrofitted by establishing at least one enclosure 105 as disclosed herein by securing one or more insulation elements 1 10 to the photovoltaic panel mounting structure 100 at its outer or circumferential ends. In some embodiments, the one or more insulation elements 1 10 is made of a flexible waterproof or water resistant material, e.g. a cloth, fabric, or other suitable material, and the one or more insulation elements 1 10 may simply be secured and hanged on to the photovoltaic panel mounting structure 100 down to (and on) the ground 101. This establishes the at least one enclosure 105 in a very simple and cost-effective manner.

In addition to establishing the at least one enclosure 105, one or more energy transfer units 1 1 1 as disclosed herein is provided and installed and connected for receiving at least a part of the enclosed gaseous medium and transferring thermal energy from a received part of the gaseous medium of the at least one enclosure 105 to a further medium as disclosed herein.

It should be noted, that the illustrated and corresponding one or more insulation elements 1 10 need not only to be used for retro-fitting. They may equally be used when constructing a new photovoltaic panel mounting structure. They are however, very suited for retro-fitting as they do not require much modification of existing photovoltaic panel mounting structures. They only require attaching the one or more insulation elements at outer or circumferential ends of a photovoltaic panel mounting structure. Figure 13 schematically illustrates a side view of a further embodiment of a photovoltaic panel mounting structure as disclosed herein comprising one or more ventilation elements. The illustrated photovoltaic panel mounting structure 100 corresponds to the ones explained in connection with the previous figures except as noted in the following. In Figure 13, the photovoltaic panel mounting structure 100 comprises one or more controllable ventilation elements 120 connecting the (at least one) enclosure 105 to external ambient air. The one or more controllable ventilation elements 120 is/are configured to open for external ambient air when a determined temperature of the gaseous medium is above a predetermined threshold and otherwise close for external ambient air. In some embodiments, like the one shown in Figure 13 and corresponding or others, the photovoltaic panel mounting structure 100 may also comprise one or more additional controllable ventilation elements located elsewhere e.g. located at or near the opposite end of the first support part 103 (i.e. bottom left on the Figure).

Generally, the one or more controllable ventilation elements may be used regardless of what type the one or more insulation elements 1 10 are and/or how the enclosure is established. One or more of the ventilation elements, e.g. the one(s) located closest to the ground 101 , may be passive ventilation elements such as passive air intakes that may draw air in when the one or more additional controllable ventilation elements are opened. In this particular shown exemplary embodiment, the one or more conduits or pipes 1 12 comprising the further medium is run into the ground 101 rather than along it, which it alternatively also could do.

The photovoltaic panel mounting structure 100 further comprises a number of braces or similar 130 for mounting the one or more photovoltaic panels 104 on respective first support parts 103.

The photovoltaic panel mounting structure 100 comprises one or more bars, struts, rods, or other type of rigid connection elements 1 15 connecting and stabilising one or more first support parts 103, e.g. as shown by connecting it/them to one or more second support part 102. Figure 14 schematically illustrates a top view of a photovoltaic panel mounting structure together with an illustrated air flow according to an embodiment of a photovoltaic panel mounting structure as disclosed herein.

The illustrated photovoltaic panel mounting structure 100 corresponds to the ones explained in connection with the previous figures except as noted in the following. The illustrated photovoltaic panel mounting structure 100 comprises a number of walls, partitions, or the like 125 (at the illustrative dashed lines) partitioning an enclosure into several separate enclosures 105. According to this and

corresponding embodiments, an energy transfer unit 1 1 1 is located in a wall, partition, or the like 125 and is configured to receive a gaseous medium from one enclosure and expel it into a neighbouring enclosure as indicated by the arrows 135. Alternatively, the energy transfer units may be located on either side of a wall, partition, or the like with suitable conduits transferring the gaseous medium through the wall, partition, or the like into a neighbouring enclosure.

The gaseous medium passing through an energy transfer unit 1 1 1 will be cooled (due to transfer of energy) and then heated again (as indicated by the colour gradient of the arrows 135) in the next enclosure by solar energy subjected to the one or more photovoltaic panels/the photovoltaic panel mounting structure and so on. It is more efficient, to draw out thermal energy in this way, instead of having a number of energy transfer units being located in a single large enclosure.

Furthermore, having a closed system in this manner reduces waste of thermal energy since the cooled gaseous medium having passed through an energy transfer unit 1 1 1 will often still be warmer than an outside temperature.

An energy transfer unit may be located at the circumference or outer ends of the photovoltaic panel mounting structure 100 to expel the gaseous medium to a next row (if present) of enclosures and e.g. directing the flow of the gaseous medium in the opposite direction. The overall flow of gaseous medium may be closed across all the enclosures.

It should be noted, that while many of the Figures illustrates respective photovoltaic panel mounting structures comprising a single enclosure they could equally comprise a number of separate or connected enclosures e.g. by partitioning one enclosure into several smaller enclosures or constructing the enclosures separately.

Some preferred embodiments have been shown in the foregoing, but it should be stressed that the invention is not limited to these, but may be embodied in other ways within the subject matter defined in the following claims. In the claims enumerating several features, some or all of these features may be embodied by one and the same element, component or item. The mere fact that certain measures are recited in mutually different dependent claims or described in different embodiments does not indicate that a combination of these measures cannot be used to advantage. It should be emphasized that the term "comprises/comprising" when used in this specification is taken to specify the presence of stated features, elements, steps or components but does not preclude the presence or addition of one or more other features, elements, steps, components or groups thereof.

Claims

Claims:
1. A photovoltaic panel mounting structure (100), the photovoltaic panel mounting structure (100) comprising
- one or more photovoltaic panels (104),
- one or more support structures (102, 103, 106) adapted to support the one or more photovoltaic panels (104) on the ground (101 ), wherein the photovoltaic panel mounting structure (100) further
- comprises at least one enclosure (105) comprising an enclosed gaseous medium wherein the at least one enclosure (105) is located so that at least a part of solar energy being subjected to the one or more photovoltaic panels
(104) is transferred to the enclosed gaseous medium as thermal energy, and
- comprises or is connected to an energy transfer unit (1 1 1 ), the energy
transfer unit (1 1 1 ) being configured for receiving at least a part of the enclosed gaseous medium and transferring thermal energy from a received part of the gaseous medium to a further medium.
2. The photovoltaic panel mounting structure (100) according to claim 1 , wherein the energy transfer unit (1 1 1 ) is a gas to liquid energy transfer unit (1 1 1 ).
3. The photovoltaic panel mounting structure (100) according to claim 1 or 2, wherein the energy transfer unit (1 1 1 ) is a heat pump. 4. The photovoltaic panel mounting structure (100) according to any one of claims 1
- 3, wherein the energy transfer unit (1 1 1 ) is powered by electrical power generated by at least some of the one or more photovoltaic panels (104).
5. The photovoltaic panel mounting structure (100) according to any one of claims 1
- 4, wherein photovoltaic panel mounting structure (100) comprises one or more conduits or pipes (1 12) comprising at least a part of the further medium and being in fluid communication with the energy transfer unit (1 1 1 ).
6. The photovoltaic panel mounting structure (100) according to any one of claims 1
- 5, wherein at least a part of the further medium is in fluid connection with an external seasonal thermal storage.
7. The photovoltaic panel mounting structure (100) according to any one of claims 1 - 6, wherein the further medium is in fluid connection with a heat exchanger.
8. The photovoltaic panel mounting structure (100) according to any one of claims 1
- 7, wherein at least some of the one or more support structures (102, 103, 106) comprises a first support part (103) and a second support part (102) where the first support part (103) supports at least some of the one or more photovoltaic panels (104) and the second support part (102) supports the first support part (103).
9. The photovoltaic panel mounting structure (100) according to any one of claims 1
- 8, wherein the photovoltaic panel mounting structure (100) comprises one or more insulation elements (1 10) defining, at least in part, the at least one enclosure (105).
10. The photovoltaic panel mounting structure (100) according to claim 9, wherein the one or more insulation elements (1 10) defines the at least one enclosure (105) together with at least a part of the one or more support structures (102, 103, 106) and/or at least a part of a surface of the one or more photovoltaic panels (104).
1 1. The photovoltaic panel mounting structure (100) according to claim 9 or 10, wherein the one or more insulation elements (1 10) comprises a flexible waterproof or flexible water resistant material and are secured to the photovoltaic panel mounting structure (100) along a circumference of the photovoltaic panel mounting structure (100) and hanging from there onto the ground (101 ) thereby enclosing a volume of air between the photovoltaic panel mounting structure (100) and the ground (101 ) as the at least one enclosure (105). 12. The photovoltaic panel mounting structure (100) according to any one of claims 1 - 1 1 , wherein at least some of the one or more photovoltaic panels (104) are arranged so that they have cross-section generally being a consecutive shape of v- shapes, a consecutive shape of upside-down v-shapes, or a saw-tooth shape.
13. The photovoltaic panel mounting structure (100) according to any one of claims 1 - 12, wherein at least some of the one or more photovoltaic panels (104) are arranged in a planar configuration with a space between the respective photovoltaic panels (104). 14. The photovoltaic panel mounting structure (100) according to any one of claims 1 - 13, wherein the photovoltaic panel mounting structure (100) comprises one or more controllable ventilation elements (120) connecting at least one enclosure (105) with external ambient air and wherein the one or more controllable ventilation elements (120) is configured to - open for external ambient air when a determined temperature of the gaseous medium is above a predetermined threshold, and/or
- open for external ambient air when a determined temperature of the gaseous medium is below a determined temperature of the external ambient air.
15. The photovoltaic panel mounting structure (100) according to any one of claims 1 - 14, wherein the photovoltaic panel mounting structure (100) comprises a number of walls (125) portioning the at least one enclosure (105) into several separate enclosures where at least one energy transfer unit (1 1 1 ) is located in each separate enclosure and being configured for receiving a gaseous medium from one enclosure and expel it into a neighbouring enclosure. 16. The photovoltaic panel mounting structure (100) according to any one of claims 1 - 15, wherein the at least one enclosure (105) is located under the one or more photovoltaic panels (104).
17. A method of distributing electricity generated by a photovoltaic panel mounting structure (100), e.g. a photovoltaic panel mounting structure (100) according to any one of claims 1 - 16, wherein the method comprises the steps of:
- obtaining or providing a data value representing a current available market price pr. unit of electricity, and
- distributing electricity generated by the photovoltaic panel mounting structure (100) to an electrical supply or distribution network if the data value is above a predetermined threshold and distributing at least a part of electricity generated by the photovoltaic panel mounting structure (100) to the energy transfer unit (1 1 1 ) if the data value is below the predetermined threshold.
18. A method of retro-fitting a photovoltaic panel mounting structure (100), the photovoltaic panel mounting structure (100) comprising - one or more photovoltaic panels (104), wherein the method comprises the steps of:
- establishing at least one enclosure (105) comprising an enclosed gaseous medium wherein the at least one enclosure (105) is located so that at least a part of solar energy being subjected to the one or more photovoltaic panels (104) is transferred to the enclosed gaseous medium as thermal energy, and
- providing an energy transfer unit (1 1 1 ) and connecting the energy transfer unit (1 1 1 ) for receiving at least a part of the enclosed gaseous medium and transferring thermal energy from a received part of the gaseous medium to a further medium. 19. The method according to claim 18, wherein the step of establishing at least one enclosure (105) comprises securing one or more insulation elements (1 10) to outer or circumferential ends of the photovoltaic panel mounting structure (100).
20. The method according to claim 19, wherein the one or more insulation elements (1 10) comprises a flexible waterproof or flexible water resistant material. 21. A photovoltaic plant configured to be located outside on the ground, where the photovoltaic plant comprises one or more photovoltaic panel mounting structure (100) according to any one of claims 1 - 16.
PCT/EP2018/051912 2017-01-26 2018-01-26 A photovoltaic panel mounting structure WO2018138238A1 (en)

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Citations (5)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US20030061773A1 (en) * 2001-10-01 2003-04-03 O'leary Patrick Structurally integrated solar collector
WO2010049225A2 (en) * 2008-10-31 2010-05-06 Heiko Reichert Arrangement and method for utilizing the heat built up on photovoltaic systems of domestic installations
US20110209742A1 (en) * 2009-06-10 2011-09-01 Pvt Solar, Inc. Method and Structure for a Cool Roof by Using a Plenum Structure
EP2410578A2 (en) * 2010-07-23 2012-01-25 Compagnie Industrielle D'Applications Thermiques Thermal-photovoltaic hybrid solar device and installation including such a device
US20150194557A1 (en) * 2014-01-03 2015-07-09 Douglas Williams Solar hybrid photovoltaic-thermal collector assembly and method of use

Patent Citations (5)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US20030061773A1 (en) * 2001-10-01 2003-04-03 O'leary Patrick Structurally integrated solar collector
WO2010049225A2 (en) * 2008-10-31 2010-05-06 Heiko Reichert Arrangement and method for utilizing the heat built up on photovoltaic systems of domestic installations
US20110209742A1 (en) * 2009-06-10 2011-09-01 Pvt Solar, Inc. Method and Structure for a Cool Roof by Using a Plenum Structure
EP2410578A2 (en) * 2010-07-23 2012-01-25 Compagnie Industrielle D'Applications Thermiques Thermal-photovoltaic hybrid solar device and installation including such a device
US20150194557A1 (en) * 2014-01-03 2015-07-09 Douglas Williams Solar hybrid photovoltaic-thermal collector assembly and method of use

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