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Start-up unveils solar thermal panel for large-scale applications

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Swiss start-up TVP Solar has developed a solar thermal panel that can produce hot water or steam at between 80 C and 180 C for industrial process heat, district heating, and air conditioning.

Typical applications are large-scale solar plants dedicated to solar heat for industrial processes (SHIP), providing pressurised hot water or steam up to 180 C to industries such as food and beverage, chemical, textile, paper, oil and gas, mining, and automotive,” TVP Solar’s vice president business development, Guglielmo Cioni, told pv magazine. “All of these industries have a major share of fuel consumption to produce heat below 180 C of temperature.”

The company said its MT-Power panel exhibits minimal thermal losses and no degradation over time, with an average thermal efficiency of up to 64.5% and a peak thermal efficiency of 68.6%.

“The efficiency can also be higher, depending on temperature,” Cioni said. “It may be a real booster for thermal output, by combining solar thermal to photovoltaics and heat pumps to provide enhanced output per square meter, in particular for low-temperature applications such as district heating.”

The panel has a flat design and was developed with a high vacuum flat panel (HVFP) technology developed by the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN).

“No other non-concentrated solar technology can claim such performance,” Cioni said. “TVP Solar’s super-performing flat collectors produce heat throughout the year in most climatic conditions and geographies cheaper than liquid fossil fuels.”

The panels are built with heat absorbers with heat transfer fluid pipes welded to coated absorber sheet, a glass cover with an embedded peripheral frame, and a lightweight metal backplate. The modules are initially encapsulated with glass-to-metal sealing, which ensures durability of more than 25 years, according to the manufacturer. They then go through automated vacuum-type welding of the peripheral frame and a differential exhaust process via a tunnel oven.

The panel has an absorption area of 1.96 m2 and a weight of 27kg per square metre. It is reportedly able to generate up to 1,200 kWh of thermal energy per square metre per year depending on solar irradiance and operating temperature.

TVP Solar is currently operating a 5,000 m2 manufacturing facility in Avellino, southern Italy. The factory has a fully automated line with a capacity of 110,000 m2 per year. Several systems built with its modules are currently operating across several demonstration sites.

“The size of our projects did not exceed 1 MW until 2021, but now we are only targeting projects over 1 MW, and we believe that, especially in combination with thermal storage and advanced control and management systems, our module technology may be used in projects of up to 100 MW,” Cioni said. “Further standardisation of the Balance of System (BoS) is being designed for such projects, including the expansion of the existing supply chain for the BoS.”

The existing plants were installed in Italy, France, Switzerland, UAE, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, USA, Brazil, Spain, Germany, the Netherlands.

“Our target is to continue to operate in these markets and to expand globally within five years,” Cioni said.

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