Harvesting Sunlight For Electricity Or Thermal Energy
Nearly everyone once held a magnifying glass in hand and concentrated the sun to burn a leaf or grass. We were told that the magnifying glass had a perfect geometry for concentrating light on a focal point. Now scientists are developing the same concept to help power buildings, power homes, and run electric car charging stations.
A new spherical solar energy generating globe, “Betaray” has been developed by German architect Andre Broessel and solar energy architect colleagues at Rawlemon Studios in Barcelona, Spain. According to Rawlemon, the technology is 35% more efficient than dual axis photovoltaic designs. Existing photovoltaic panels require four times the amount of incoming light for power production to occur, according to Rawlemon.
B.Torics is a simple optical system to concentrate sunlight, moonlight and even “cloud light” up to 10,000 times, allowing concentrated solar power, CPV and CSP, with photovoltaic and thermal applications. An earlier iteration of the technology, the Micro-Trak was studied at the Zentrum fur Sonnenenergie-und Wasserstoff Forschung Baden Wurttemberg where the results were tested and verified.
B.torics was a finalist at the World Technology Network Award 2013 leading to the second design, the BetaRay.
High Efficiency Energy Generation
Rawlemon believes the technology can be fully integrated with buildings to help generate power. Betaray is mobile providing a low-cost solution for heating water or generating electricity wherever it is needed or in stationary installations in landscapes where sunlight is plentiful..
Rawlemon has designed hybrid buildings using the technology including a 60 room hotel with a vertical power plant with 30 kW of electrical and thermal output intended to be built close to the World Trade Center of Barcelona and the International Ferry Terminals where they will showcase their high tech and sustainable technology.
A Japanese company, Kyosemi is another entrant into the spherical solar cell business. While the technology may be scalable, it is not clear yet what the cost per kilowatt hour compared to current photovoltaics.