Glasgow Caledonian University has developed a novel optical concentrator capable of providing gain on two planes. Such a concentrator can be used in a non-tracking wall mounted BIPV system.
The concentrator provides higher optical gains than alternative optical elements, thereby reducing the amount of PV cell (and silicon) required. Additionally, carefully selected FOVs (Field-of-Views) contribute to capture solar radiation throughout the day and all year round, removing the requirement for electromechanical tracking.
Further, the optical structure has been designed to take into account the fact that the sun’s path deviation from summer to winter is far less than the deviation from sunrise to sunset and the entrance aperture and concentrator profile have been optimsed to redirect sunlight to the exit aperture and to the PV material.
A concentrator PV-array based on this structure is also capable of providing ambient light to building interiors.
The reduction of PV material can be particularly important in applications using Gallium Arsenide PV cells.
The optical element can be used not only for solar energy systems (solar PV and solar thermal), it also could be used to collect visible and infrared radiation in applications such as sensing and optical wireless communications.
- Reduction in cost of BIPV systems
- High optical gain
- High electrical power output
- Optimum collection of light at a variety of angles of incidence
- No electrical tracking required
- Provides illumination as well as energy generation
- Reduction in CO2 emissions
- BIPV Systems
- Optical sensing
- Optical wireless communications
The technology is protected by a granted GB patent and international patent application (Priority date December 2011), now in Regional/National phase.
Small prototypes have been built and tested with extremely positive results. Larger prototype array units have now been completed and initial results have confirmed these impressive results with high levels of optical gain generated.
Energy used by domestic and non-domestic buildings accounts for approximately 30% of UK carbon emissions, so there is significant opportunity for better management of building energy systems. Technological advances mean that innovative wireless sensors and metering systems can gather fine granularity data on building function and performance.
GCU have developed a building management system which continuously monitors sensors responsible for controlling environmental parameters; room temperature and humidity, air quality, lighting, room occupancy, power usage etc. The system is able to optimise these parameters through remote energy monitoring.
- More efficient building energy control
- Greater building energy efficiency
- Higher levels of occupant comfort
- Reduced building carbon footprint
- Lower building energy costs
- Domestic building energy management system
- Non-domestic building energy management system
- Industrial control system
- Smart meters
A patent application has been filed to protect the technology and the University is seeking commercial partners interested in developing, licensing or exploiting this technology.
Energy efficiency is of increasing global importance for both ecological and economic reasons. The increasing awareness of the negative effects of global warming is not only motivating the development of renewable energy technologies, but also the search for efficient ways to reduce energy consumption. The latter is of particular importance due to the rising price of electrical energy. Street lighting, for example, costs c£500m per annum to power 7.5m homes in the UK, a figure which will increase substantially over the next few years. Cities and councils are trying to reduce both their costs and carbon footprint and have proposed some radical solutions such as switching off or dimming lights in some areas. This has obvious safety issues.
Conventional street lighting illumination sources suffer from a number of problems; short life-spans, low and/or poor quality light and light output and use of potentially harmful materials. Alternative solutions such as LED-based lamps have longer life-spans, emit better quality light and are more energy efficient, however they also have drawbacks. The main one is that current retrofit LED solutions for street illumination do not meet national and international standards. LED lamps installed in poles higher than 6m for instance fail to produce a footprint which complies with CIE, ISO and EN standards. They also suffer from poor thermal performance, have light output and efficiency issues.
The technology described here can be combined with LEDs to address these issues and produce uniformity of illuminanace and footprints of various defined diameter and shape.
- Uniformity of illumination
- Flexible and defined illumination footprint
- Energy savings
- Lower CO2 emissions
- Improved safety
- Conformance with national and international standards
- Street lighting
- Optical wireless communications
- General illumination
The invention is protected by a UK patent application, priority date July 2016.
The university welcomes discussions with potential commercial licence or co-development partners.