Thermal Solar vs. PV – More of the story

In the cost comparison chart on the “About the Project” page, we analyze the cost to create electricity using both photovoltaic panels and our proprietary solar thermal cycle.  We took the 15% average efficiency of PV and compared it to our system with an assumed 15% efficiency (we’re expecting 25-30% but for the sake of our argument we keep it conservative).  That basically means that of all the energy that the sun is giving, only 15% of it actually gets turned into electricity.  So what happens to the other 85%?  Where does it go?

In PV systems, nothing happens to the other 85%. It does not get utilized, it’s completely gone and wasted.  The panel takes all of the suns energy and converts only 15% of it into electricity.

Now in our system, you could argue a similar point but the keyword in this sentence is similar. While only a small percentage of the energy is converted into actual electricity, solar thermal systems have something that PV does not:  an exhaust. After our engine runs, we have a flow of exhaust that run somewhere around 300F.  Why is that valuable, what can we do with that heat?  To name just a few possibilities:

  • Cooking
  • Heating
  • Hot water
  • Air conditioning (Einstein/Szilard system)
  • Refigeration (Einstein/Szilard system)

The steam has to be condensed back to water before it can be recycled into our system as it is.  So why not put that excess heat to good use?  Using solar thermal energy, you’ve not only cut your electricity bill, but you’ve also cut the cost of every other single utility that you currently pay for.  Does PV do that for you? We didn’t think so.

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