Solar electric plus thermal systems to be manufactured in Texas – pv magazine USA

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Naked Energy signed a deal with ELM Solar to manufacture its VirtuPVT and VirtuHOT systems in Dallas, with units available for purchase in 2025.

April 9, 2024

Naked Energy has announced plans to manufacture its combined solar photovoltaic and solar thermal units in Texas. The new facility will be located in Dallas, with ELM Solar, a subsidiary of ELM companies, overseeing the manufacturing of components.

ELM Companies will invest $3 million in the new facility, which is expected to manufacture all products destined for the North American market by 2025. The partners anticipate producing 150,000 “Virtu tubes” by 2028. ELM Solar currently serves as Naked Solar’s North American distribution partner.

Naked Energy’s product lineup includes the VirtuHot and the VirtuPVT units. The VirtuHOT unit can heat water up to 120°C (248°F) using solar thermal energy. These thermally isolated tubes can heat water even in sub-zero temperatures by allowing sunlight in while keeping the cold out.

Recently, Naked Energy deployed a project at Creighton University in Nebraska (see Featured Image), deploying 69.9 kW of VirtuHOT HD units. The installation consists of 240 systems, each featuring an absorber plate, a borosilicate glass tube, and an integrated mounting system. These units are designed to provide hot water for a dormitory housing approximately 400 students.

The VirtuPVT generates electricity and heat up to 75°C (167°F). The system integrates a heat absorber plate, conventional silicon solar cells, a borosilicate glass tube, and an integrated reflector placed in between the individual tubes to capture extra sunlight.

The hardware is sold in five tube subunits. Each tube measures 2,165 mm (7.1 feet) in length, while a complete set of five tubes measures 1,500 mm (4.9 feet) in width. The system is designed to accommodate standard-sized 6-inch monoPERC solar cells, with each tube capable of generating 74 watts of power, resulting in a cumulative output of 370 watts across an area of 3.2 square meters.

When vertically mounted, the electricity generating units have higher electricity production in the spring and fall, as the sun tends to be higher overhead during summer months, shading the solar cells as shown by an installation in the United Kingdom.

In comparison, a conventional residential solar panel dedicated solely to electricity generation typically provides around 400 watts within a 2 square meter area.

Naked Energy told pv magazine USA that right now, Naked Energy is shipping all parts to ELM Solar. However, they said the entire value chain for Naked Energy’s products in the U.S. will be sourced from U.S. companies by the end of 2025, meaning customers of ELM will benefit from IRA incentives by then. By default, the solar thermal and solar electric hardware currently qualify for the 30% tax credit.

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