Two researchers from Queen’s University (Canada) announced that they had achieved a significant breakthrough in solar technologies, especially in the design of a new solar photovoltaic thermal (PVT), a system generating both electricity and heat.

The PVT solar system normally includes monocrystalline silicon cells that produce electricity, but little heat. Researchers Stephen Harrison and Joshua Pearce, Mechanical Engineers and Engineering designed, built and tested amorphous silicon cells in a solar PVT system. Their study shows both an increase in heat production (due to higher temperatures) and an increase in electrosolar energy production (10%).

“These studies open a new application of amorphous silicon and enables system PVT low-cost,” said Dr. Pearce. “In Canada, we need solar electricity and solar heating, but we are still asking ourselves questions about the use of rooftop solar. Now people will have both solar electricity and solar heating integrated into a single casing well-posed.”

Amorphous silicon has several advantages over single crystal silicon. It requires less material, less expensive to manufacture and offer a better return on investment. Research also shows that the amorphous silicon solar cells can be transformed into thicker cells provided they are used at higher temperatures in the PVT system.

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