The infrared radiation from the sun penetrates the panel through the top glass plate and gets trapped inside. The temperature goes up as more radiation is trapped and heats the tubes inside the panel. The tubes are filled with a liquid (containing anti-freeze) which travels around a circuit from the panels to the hot water cylinder. When the heated liquid reaches the cylinder, it transfers its heat to the existing water in the cylinder. This process is called heat transfer. The liquid then continues round the circuit, repeating the process, until the temperature of the water in the cylinder is satisfied. At this point, the pump stops and will only start again once the temperature drops in the cylinder as the water is used.
Sun light hits the silicon cells in the panel and starts to generate electricity which flows down via cables to the inverter. The inverter converts the DC current into usable AC current.
The hybrid panel combines PV and solar thermal collectors. Despite misconceptions, the two combined technologies work to complement each other. PV needs to keep cool in order to achieve maximum efficiency and solar thermal needs to stay hot to increase its efficiency. PV-T increases the efficiency of the PV cells by cooling them down (mainly required in the summer months). A circuit of fluid travels around the panel and absorbs the heat and takes it away. We use this heat as a solar thermal solution by putting the heat in the hot water tank. This process increases the efficiency of the PV and adds heat to the cylinder to top up hot water requirements. In basic terms, PV-T is a PV system with a cooling system integrated in it. The PV cells, therefore, become around 20% more efficient than a standard PV system and have the added benefit of thermal energy.
Newform Energy has two types of PV-T panels available:
This panel is electrically bias producing slight less solar thermal than its sister product, PowerTherm. The cells are protected with a thin layer of solar glass. The PowerVolt panel is 10% more electrically efficient than the PowerTherm panel and produces a pre-heat to your hot water cylinder.
This panel is thermally biased and much more like a traditional solar thermal system. It has a 4mm glass cover which is thicker than the PowerVolt panel which in turn increases its thermal efficiency by 30%.
Essentially our patented heat pump is similar to a ground source heat pump but with two liquid circuits. The heat pump collects heat from the ground using a network of pipes arranged like a grid. The ground is perfect source of heat. It maintains a temperature of about 12°C during the winter months and achieves much higher temperatures in the summer. The ground beneath the surface never freezes (would have to be -60 outside!!) The heat pump passes fluid through the grid which absorbs the heat. It takes this heat to the heat pump where it is compressed. The compressor inside the heat pump squeezes the temperature out and transfers it to the heat exchanger. The heat exchanger passes the heat on to another liquid filled circuit (the domestic heating circuit) transforming the heat to a high temperature. (expand!) As you are extracting all the heat from the ground around the network of pipes, you have to be careful you do not freeze the ground. You therefore require 100s of meter of pipes carefully calculated in order to satisfy your heat load and not allow the ground temperature to drop . However the ground is constantly being heated by the sun and quickly regains temperature.
The solar controller uses intelligent software to predict the most efficient and cheapest source of energy available from the integrated technologies to meet the house hold demands. It then learns the patterns of energy usage used by the household and adjusts its setting accordingly, all with no direct input from the homeowner.
Newform Energy’s unique approach to energy generation is the way we have integrated the technologies into a single intelligent system. The system’s success is how it manages to select the most cost effective energy source to provide the homeowner’s energy.
Our system can decide to use either the ground or the sun, as we have integrated our solar thermal circuit into the heat pump’s cold side circuit. Our intelligent controller will pick which system is hottest and use the energy accordingly e.g. if on a sunny winter day when the panels are at 35°C and the ground is at 12°C then the system will choose the panels heat and run it through the heat pump upgrading the temperature. Once the cylinder is satisfied by the solar thermal production, the excess heat is used to charge the ground and can be used in the colder winter months. We store excess heat in the summer for use in the winter. This integrated system can create a COP of 5 or 6 in winter whereas a normal COP for winter months using a heat pump on its own would be 4.
We launched in 2006 - see what we've been doing since then
Newform Energy started life as a Research and Development company
We began trading in County Durham
We started work on the Grand Designs project "Crossways", Kent's first zero-carbon home
Commercial projects - we start work on Walthamstow Fire Station & Warwick University
We relocate to Faversham in Kent
All of our PV-T products gain MCS accreditation
We win a Grand Designs Green Hero awards
We complete Morden Hall, a National Trust visitors centre
We provide PV-T for Sunny Bank, Grand Design's Home of the Year
We develop an energy solution for Pines Calyx, a low energy conference centre
We win the tender for the NEWS recycling centre, Norfolk
We win a handful of awards - the Sustainable Housing award, Environment & Energy Renewable Innovation Award and the Rushlight Natural Energy award
We provide the energy solution for The Solar House, an innovative zero carbon project
We collaborate with Caplin Homes - Zero Carbon Solution is established
We are awarded the largest fund given to a single company by Kent County Council's TIGER fund
Pepper Capital Advisors invest in Newform Energy
We forge partnerships with British Gas & Panasonic