Solar panels are mainly found on roofs, where they convert sunlight into electricity. But the photovoltaic cells in PV panels can also be combined with solar collectors to produce heat and electricity. In the long term, solar heat could provide about a quarter of the heat demand of dwellings in the Netherlands. TNO is working with market parties on innovations in photovoltaic-thermal (PV-T) systems to achieve this goal. 

The market for PV-T systems is growing, as is the number of suppliers of PV-T modules. TNO is developing technologies and applications to make the PV-T systems better and more affordable so that they can contribute to the energy transition and in particular to the goal of natural gas-free neighbourhoods. PV-T on roofs in combination with a heat pump can even make part of the built environment energy neutral.  

Opportunities and obstacles 

TNO previously carried out research into opportunities and obstacles of PV-T systems. To this end, we interviewed around thirty parties, including manufacturers and suppliers of PV and PV-T systems, installation companies, project developers and public authorities. Making the built environment energy-neutral is seen as a good market opportunity for PV-T. However, it is important to be able to vary the colour pattern and size of the PV-T modules in order to make them visually attractive for the building. TNO demonstrated this earlier with aesthetic facades equipped with solar modules and with heat-absorbing paint applied to façade elements.

New systems realistically tested 

In a consortium with Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) and a large number of companies, we designed, built and simulated and tested three systems in a controlled lab environment in the project PV-T inSHaPe (integrated Solar Heat Pump systems). This took place at the TNO research site SolarBEAT, located on the TU/e campus where TNO carries out research in real outdoor conditions. SolarBEAT offers roof or façade surface area of up to several dozen square metres that is available for each research project. We link the results of the technical research to a techno-financial analysis to calculate the business case for PV-T systems.

Storing solar heat for the whole season 

Solar heat, including PV-T systems, can play a substantial role in the energy transition. That is why research into this technology is important. TNO has carried out an exploratory study into the possible future of solar heat in our country. In 2050 it could meet 26% of the heat demand of dwellings. Seasonal storage is essential to achieve this. Heat produced in summer could be stored in heat batteries and then used in cold periods. Solar heat could cover about ten percent of the total heat demand from the built environment, utilities, agriculture and industry. TNO describes the bottlenecks in the study and makes concrete recommendations to make optimal use of solar heat.

More info about solar heat and PV-T?

Contact Corry de Keizer

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