March 23, 2009

Solar Tracking Photovoltaic Panels

Filed under: Technology Development — Tags: , , , , — smeyer @ 4:33 pm

Solar Power as an industry has been growing in huge leaps around the world in recent years. Although the rate is slowing, it is still forecast to grow in the US at 25-28% next year. Much of the growth is subsidized by government through cash rebates at the state level and federal tax rebates at the national level.  This is because solar power has a payback period of about 8 years for many applications, which means that small commercial and residential systems are too expensive to be practical.

What happens when the subsidies run out?  The risk is that if the industry does not achieve substantially lower cost and better return on investment, that the industry could stall.  Present solar panels that convert sunlight to electric power are based on expensive silicon similar to the material used to create integrated circuits.  But other photovoltaic chemistries exist and many different technologies are being developed that will bring costs down over the next few years.  So the overall outlook is still very promising.

But the single technology that has the most immediate impact on solar energy harvesting is tracking the sun.  This means moving the panels so that the sun’s light is always perpendicular to the panel.  The National Renewable Energy Laboratories say that solar tracking will increase power up to 36%.  And that is a bigger improvement than any of the advanced solar R&D programs can deliver.  And the improvement is available right NOW!

By applying tracking to system engineering, solar system costs can be reduced substantially.  The 36% increase in harvesting can be used to reduce the number of solar panels required by 36%, and that means means cutting the ROI down from 8 years to 5 years.  Further system efficiency gains through the use of micro inverters will help bring the cost and ROI into the realm that will make solar power practical for many home owners and small businesses.  And proposed legislation that will make financing solar equipment part of conventional home financing loans is in the works.

Solid Tech Inc. has unique expertise in the field of motion control and has Patents pending on a series of single panel tracking solutions that are cost effective and rugged enough for flat roof commercial and residential requirements.  We are seeking partners to help fund a very quick engineering program that will bring low cost tracking to the market in 6 to 9 months.

4 Responses to “Solar Tracking Photovoltaic Panels”

  1. P Giraud says:

    Any development on the single panel tracking solutions?

    Best regards

  2. smeyer says:

    Yes, we are progressing on an improved design since the first prototype. We are completing our finite element analysis and starting on the fabrication of the test unit. This design gives greater range of motion in the azimuth which should translate to more output power. We are hoping to be in production in January.
    Please contact me directly at stventuresinc@gmail.com for details
    Thanks
    Steve Meyer

  3. smeyer says:

    Joanna,

    thanks for your post. The question is, would have done solar without the incentive? And are you spending less per month after the loan payment for the equipment. Generally, the return is very poor. I think the opportunity is there if you are in a new house that is extremely efficient and the solar is built into the house note.

  4. smeyer says:

    Murray

    Thanks for the email. I am posting more frequently at mechatronictips.com for Design World magazine, but will do more on Solid Tech soon.

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