Greentechmedia recently published a couple of articles about companies that are developing solar units that contain both photovoltaic cells to convert light to electricty and heat pipes to collect heat from the sun for use as hot water. Entech Solar is one such company -they’re developing units that can be set up in arrays from 100 kilowatts up to 5 or 10 megawatts in size. The Entech Solar units, which are being built to be sold to industrial customers and corporate customers, can be made fairly inexpensively, according to the company and will deliver three to five times the energy that a pure photovoltaic system can deliver.
Brightphase Energy is another company building products that produce both electricty and heat. The Brightphase Photensity panel contains silicon solar cells rated at 18 percent efficiency for electricity generation. They also contain a fluid filled pipe that can be used to heat the building’s water. In addition, because the cells are mounted on seperated strips that look like venetian blinds, the Photensity panels can let light into the building, which reduces the need for artificial light during the day.