Solar Prototype Concentrates Sun's Energy with Glass Orb, Boosts PV Efficiency 35%
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When talking about concentrated solar power, we usually mean focusing the sun's energy from a large area into a smaller area, which generates a lot of heat that can be used to produce electricity. But a prototype for a different method of concentrated solar power focuses the sunlight onto a photovoltaic panel, and is said to be able to boost efficiency by as much as 35%.
Barcelona designer and architect André Broessel's ß.torics (Beta Torics) spherical lens solar generator uses a large water-filled glass ball to concentrate the sun's energy (by up to 10,000 times!) onto a small PV panel. His design also integrates a fully rotational tracking system to optimize the solar energy gain throughout the day, and is said to be able to be mounted on or in walls for use with either PV panels or solar thermal applications.
This is a beautiful device, but there's at least one big question that comes up when discussing the idea of integrating these units into buildings, which is the weight of these water-filled lenses, which could easily outweigh any other options for rooftop or wall-mounted solar energy devices. Other limiting factors in producing these might be the high cost (and the technology needed) for turning out optical grade glass balls of a significant size, such as the one in the prototype, and the high temperatures generated on the surface of the PV panels.
The ß.torics spherical glass solar energy generator design is currently awaiting patent approval. For more info, see Raw Lemon ß.torics.