One of the ironies with solar power is that when the sun is at its brightest, the efficiency of converting it to electricity is lower due to the high temperatures. Also, the full ecosystem of a solar power plant installation is complex with many different components and systems required.
Cool PV is a thermally enabled, modular and compact solar power plant that results in a higher efficiency and fully integrated energy system. The initial target is novel thermal management, which enables increase in efficiency by up to 30%. In addition, we are looking at novel compact system architectures to result in a plug-and-play energy solution. This has the potential to lower the balance of system and other operation and maintenance costs associated with traditional solar solutions.
The mission is focused first on testing on an experimental setup inside the Forge Lab, but has ambitions beyond. The goal is after initial prototyping, to install the system in the solar array on the GE Research campus, allowing for side-by-side validation of any improvements the technology makes over traditional PV (photovoltaic) architectures.
- October 2019: Cool PV kicks off as a Forge mission. Originally proposed in the GE Research new ideas pipeline, this project was selected to move from a seedling to a full-fledged mission to build out and test its ideas.
- December 2019: First functioning test rig completed. With simulated light and heat source and a commercial PV system, the team built its first test rig to be able to capture baseline data for efficiency loss at high temperatures.