It may sound avant-garde but amalgamating the benefits of photovoltaic solar systems and thermal power systems into one form factor seems more of a possibility now. Pretty interestingly, researchers in Switzerland have started developing a highly efficient parabolic solar dish which will not only generate electricity power, but will also desalinate water for good.
Since most solar power systems work by accumulating either heat energy or electrical energy, the new solar energy-capturing dish hopes to revolutionize the way electricity is generated without costing anything heavy. Entitled as the High Concentration PhotoVoltaic Thermal System, the prototype will apparently be cheaper than current solar panels and be able to benefit from some of the heat it captures.
Although the new system (HCPVT) functions on the same principle as those colossal fields of mirrors, the solar dish is anticipated to transform a lot of things for better – owing to its integrated capability to clean water at the same time. However, to give a gist of how it operates the prototype takes advantage of really small mirror facets and focus largely on the energy in the tiny photovoltaic chips – which would work on its electrical energy part.
To help the system stay cool (on the other hand), researchers have embedded an efficient liquid coolant system which will help absorb heat from the receivers and evaporate salt water to desalinate it. While each receiver of HCPVT gets much more concentrated solar energy than direct sunlight, it hopes to generate electricity at a much lower cost compared to coal power and most current solar panels.
If everything goes well, we will soon be having a solar collector power system that could power the earth and render fresh water and air conditioning in remote locations across the globe. However for now, we will have to hang onto our hats and see when it gets in real life!