Design and Characterization of a Hybrid Flat Plate Photovoltaic-thermal System
A variety of solar energy systems have been designed to harness sun power to produce both thermal and electric energy. Hybrid photovoltaic/thermal (PV/T) solar energy harnessing systems can concurrently provide electric and heat energy, thereby ensuring a higher conversion rate of a beam of solar radiation. A well designed PV/T system can minimize temperature influence on the electrical efficiency of a Photovoltaic module by continually cooling it. In this study, simulation results for a model constructed in commercial software TRNSYS for a hybrid PV/T system for low temperature domestic water applications for a typical Kenyan family of five are presented. Further, the results of the prototype PV/T system that was constructed are outlined and discussed. The constructed PV/T system was found to meet over half of the projected water demand. With a payback period of 5.2 years, the PVT system gives a lifetime cost saving of about Kshs. 90, 000. The combined system efficiency averaged 50%. These results are quite promising and they point towards the economic viability of the system for a typical Kenyan household and other applications requiring both electricity and hot water concurrently.
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