Photo voltaic thermal vitality: An business with untapped potential


After we take into consideration the vitality transition, the primary photos that come to thoughts is likely to be of roofs lined with photo voltaic PV panels, a windfarm – both on land or within the sea – or perhaps even electrical autos. However one know-how is commonly missed and underfunded: photo voltaic thermal, which is used for harnessing photo voltaic vitality to generate warmth to be used in business, and within the residential and industrial sectors. At a time when the EU is planning to make Europe unbiased from Russian fossil fuels earlier than 2030, consultants in photo voltaic thermal vitality emphasise the significance of together with this know-how into the vitality combine.

Following the invasion of Ukraine, the case for a fast, clear vitality transition has by no means been stronger and clearer. The EU imports 90 per cent of its fuel consumption, with Russia offering round 45 per cent of these imports in various ranges throughout Member States. The EU initiative REPowerEU will search to diversify fuel provides, speed up the inexperienced transition and substitute fuel in heating and energy technology. 

Warmth accounts for over half of vitality demand globally. Within the phrases of Christophe Williams, co-founder and CEO of Bare Power: “If you’re critical about decarbonisation, you have to sort out warmth.”

Bare Power’s workforce of engineers, scientists and innovators have developed two core merchandise: a photo voltaic thermal collector that heats water from the ability of the solar to as much as 120 °C, and a hybrid photo voltaic thermal and photo voltaic photovoltaic collector that reaches sizzling water temperatures of 100 °C and generates electrical energy. Distributed and renewable heating methods, similar to photo voltaic thermal and photo voltaic PVT, present dependable, reasonably priced and resilient vitality infrastructure. For Williams, this know-how is vital to a good transition to net-zero carbon.

An extended-standing partnership with EIT Local weather-KIC

Bare Power was one of many first start-ups to graduate from EIT Local weather-KIC’s Accelerator and has been an lively member of the neighborhood ever since.

“It’s been a protracted journey to get to the place we’re as we speak. At the moment, we thought EIT Local weather-KIC could be an awesome organisation to hitch as a result of it’s a various ecosystem, and it proved appropriate,” says Williams.

We joined EIT competitions and pitching occasions in Budapest and Brussels, obtained grant funding to do some early discipline trials and have been launched to a few of our early company clients. The truth that an organisation like EIT Local weather-KIC was taking what we have been doing critically helped us to get funding as effectively

Since then, Bare Power has raised almost £14 million in funding between non-public funding and grant funding. In actual fact, it was the primary start-up that EIT Local weather-KIC invested in, and the organisation continues to be a shareholder. Bare Power now counts 18 staff and already offers photo voltaic warmth methods to accommodations, hospitals, care houses and the manufacturing business in Switzerland, the Netherlands, Kenya, the UK and South Africa.

The most effective of each worlds

Their first product, VirtuPVT, generates each photo voltaic warmth and energy. It first converts 60 per cent of the solar’s vitality as warmth and converts a further 20 per cent into electrical energy because of monocrystalline photovoltaic cells bonded to the absorber.

“We now have taken the perfect of PV know-how and the perfect of photo voltaic warmth know-how and mixed them into one product to get a photo voltaic collector that that produces extra vitality than incumbent applied sciences,” says Williams.

The product’s design makes it simpler and cheaper to put in and keep: Every tube comes with its personal particular person mounting system and is angled in direction of the solar and spaced to keep away from self-shading within the winter. To finish the set up, the array is solely related to present electrical and plumbing methods.

Bare Power can be commercialising one other product, VirtuHOT, a flexible photo voltaic sizzling water resolution that generates excessive working temperatures and presents a novel resolution for heat-intensive functions together with home sizzling water or swimming pools or course of warmth.

A value-efficient different to the electrification of warmth

Not like electrical energy, warmth can’t be transported simply, and might solely be generated domestically. Photo voltaic thermal due to this fact offers a extra environment friendly, excessive density technique of offering zero carbon warmth, presenting a cheap different to the electrification of warmth. 

“Thermal vitality is collected and saved in hotter months and can be utilized all year long and within the opposing season when it’s wanted most,” explains Williams. “The know-how additionally relieves the growing burden being positioned on the electrical energy grid because the world electrifies transport and strikes away from fuel.”

In 2019, an array of 40 VirtuPVT tubes was put in on the south dealing with façade of the Swansea College’s Lively Workplace, the UK’s first vitality constructive workplace, designed to generate extra vitality than it makes use of every year. This was the primary large-scale industrial set up of VirtuPVT, which is built-in with thermal and electrical storage methods within the constructing. In the course of the first yr of operation, Bare Power‘s know-how averted CO2 emissions equal to 722kg (Scope 1) and 472kg (Scope 2), had conventional types of warmth and electrical energy technology, respectively, been used.

That very same yr, Bare Power put in 60 VirtuHOT tubes on the College of Westminster, producing 24 MWh of thermal vitality per yr, which offers sizzling water to a pupil lodging block to cut back pure fuel consumption. Following the success of the set up, the College of Westminster put in a second, 135 tube array of each VirtuHOT and VirtuPVT on one other lodging block, which offers each warmth and energy to the resident college students.

At the moment, Bare Power is commissioning pioneering tasks from UK cultural landmarks to a variety of tasks throughout Europe offering home sizzling water, house heating and electrical energy for quite a lot of functions.

The photo voltaic thermal business is predicted to develop to $36 billion globally by 2026. Based on the Worldwide Power Company, photo voltaic thermal and geothermal will meet 75 per cent of all warmth demand by 2050. For Williams, the business has an enormous function to play in the entire transformation that’s wanted to achieve net-zero carbon by 2050. With its modern and proprietary know-how and a rising variety of enterprise companions, Bare Power is effectively positioned to capitalise on the rising demand for different warmth sources.

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