Turnkey solar production - solar research project

24.02.2012 - Research & Development are key issues for J.v.G. Thoma GmbH of Bavaria. The leader in the industrial segment of construction of turnkey solar production units receives now grants for another highly enticing research project, namely the development of a passive ground-coupled heat exchanger that is meant to prevent temperature-related efficiency losses in solar panels.

Freystadt/Oberpfalz – A popular notion is that the more sunshine we have, the better it is for power generation. That is not alto- gether correct, because if temperatures go up, the efficiency of the solar panels begins to drop gradually. Expressed in figures: one degree plus on the thermometer means a performance drop of 0.5%. This is due to an inherent property of Silicon. On a hot summer day, the temperature in a panel may rise to as high as 70 °C. Is there a way to effectively counteract this? This is the question that the research team at J.v.G. Thoma has set on its agenda. The basic idea is: if the temperature can be brought down to about 20 °C in the solar panels, it would mean, inversely, an efficiency increase of 20%, compared to their performance at 60 °C. And that would be the annual average.

The ground as a buffer? Answers sought for a basic problem!
There are, in fact, many promising take off points: at a depth of roughly three meters, the temperature is 10°C throughout the year. “Our aim is to utilize the ground as a heat exchanger“, explains Dr. Claudia Gemmel, manager of the R&D department at J.v.G. Thoma. The method implies that the surplus heat is dissipated into the ground through pipes. However, there is one basic problem, which needs to be solved in the course of the research project: ”By nature the ground is a bad thermal conductor. At cooling loads >4 W/m2 heat accumulates in the immediate surroundings, this in turn prevents heat dissi- pating from the cooling cycle to the ground.“ But even in this regard the researchers at J.v.G. Thoma have found an encouraging solution which Dr. Claudia Gemmel’s team now plans to develop further with the grants for research sanctioned by the Central Innovation Programme for Mediumscale enterprises (Zentrales Innovationsprogramm Mittelstand - ZIM).

Impulses for sustainable growth: ZIM
The ZIM programme is endorsed by the Ministry of Economics and Technology to address the mediumscale industries. Its aim is to promote innovative talent among small and mediumscale enterprises. Within the scope of promotion of such projects, the funds cover part of the expenses for Research & Development activities. The ba- sic requirement for receiving assistance is, among other things, that new products, processes or technical services are developed which clearly surpass the existing technologies. The guidelines for this are the international state-of-the-art technology.

About J.v.G. Thoma GmbH
Based in Freystadt in the region of Oberpfalz, Germany, J.v.G. takes care of its customers in whole of Europe, America and Asia. The range of products and services of J.v.G. Thoma GmbH covers consultation in the field of solar power generation, implementation of solar factories, including purchase and sale of solar components. In addition to this, J.v.G. is also a consultant for major clients in Europe and Japan. The company has an industry experience of more than 20 years.

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