In one section, you claim the device is cooled by the spinning motion, and then in another sentence, say the whole thing is under hermetically sealed glass. That’ll generate one heck of a greenhouse effect. Spinning won’t cool it if the air is blazing hot around the panel.
The words “hermetically sealed” in the audio have created some misunderstanding. The PV and the electronic circuitry are sealed. There is an air exchange between the outer cone, which does not spin, and the inner PV cone, which does spin. We apologize for any confusion.
No matter what angle the sun is shining, 50% of the solar cells are always shaded at one time (except at high noon, at the equator). This dramatically increases cost and inversely lowers efficiency.
This would be a serious problem if the system was static. For forty years, the paradigm for solar has been the flat, static panel...and flat, static thinking simply won't work here. The inner cone is rapidly spinning in and out of highly concentrated bands of light. PV is a light-sensitive semiconductor. Every other semiconductor works under periodicity, on/off, 1/0, binary code. For the last 30 years, PV has either been ON during the day, or OFF during the night. Moore’s law states that the computing power of semiconductors doubles every two years. Why have we not seen a similar dramatic increase in PV?
By creating high-intensity flashes of light, we make the PV respond differently than it does in a static environment, just baking in the sun (see Q-switching and the Avalanche Photodiode effect). We only go into specifics under NDA [non-disclosure agreement] with stakeholders and investors. We all know what we know, but few are open-minded enough to know what we don’t know — and that’s the first step of innovation.
Solar cells work best when the sun is perpendicular to the panel — by mounting the panels at a spinning 45% angle, you get the reduced production angle of flat panels, and all the complications and maintenance problems of tracking.
The lensing on the outer cone focuses the light through the day and year at the proper angle as the inner PV cone spins. This is done by design and avoids the complications of tracking.
Spinning a panel constantly = constantly consuming energy just to spin the panel. That does not seem efficient?
The inner PV cone floats on magnets and uses less than 10 watts to maintain the spin. The initial push to start the spin is higher and all units will be rated for their net output. So if the unit produces 1000 watts, but it uses 10 watts for the spin, it will be rated at 990 watts. The gains of dynamic spin far outweigh the minimal loss. Since no parts are rubbing against each other, this also minimizes the maintenance concern below.
Anything with mechanical motion will break down and require regular maintenance.
The moving parts on the Spin Cell are less complex than those in an oscillating fan. Solar panels are incredibly durable. That is why we use PV for our inner cone. The inverter for flat panels has to be changed about every 10 years, but the panels can keep producing for 40 years or more. We take that same reliable PV and put it in a dynamic environment. Yes, this creates more issues around maintenance, but if our payback is three years rather than seven years, we feel the market will move our direction. The key is how quickly we can create a return on investment. For large-scale commercial farms, we can use the same large-scale AC wind inverters that GE and others have developed for the wind industry. Yes, we have an “inverter” built into the Spin Cell, but it may be more cost effective on large projects to remove that aspect and use inverters developed for the wind industry to connect with the grid.
Honing and creating a perfectly conical and sealed glass won’t be cheap or easy (if even possible). If it’s plastic, expect UV to cloud the plastic covering fairly rapidly.
We are under NDA with a Fortune 50 company that has developed a new process for the outer cone. It will be glass, with the lensing added by a proprietary process. The pricing is quite competitive.
This brings up another question — there is only 1000 watts of light in a square meter, etc. We understand that. When PV spins rapidly under multiple lenses, a staircasing, or additive effect of light is created. We are not going to go into the specifics here, because until it is vetted by a major testing facility it will simply create more questions -- plus the outer lensing cone is a nominal cost. In our BOM costs, we calculated it being 2.5X bigger than the size we believe it is going to be. If it ends up being 5X bigger, it would still only add 5 cents/Wp to our BOM costs. There is still serious, time consuming and costly R&D that has to be completed with the Spin Cell.
PV is about 18% efficient, how can V3 be 20X more efficient than that?
We are not 20X more efficient. We increase the amount of light by 20X that hits the PV, which increases the production of the PV under concentration by 20X. It has long been known that concentrating light increases production. The problem has been the associated heat. When we put a 20X concentration on flat, static panels, the temperature quickly reaches 260 degrees F and the PV fails. With the same concentration on the Spin Cell, the temperature never exceeded 15 degrees F above ambient. This is a breakthrough. By using the outer cone lensing to concentrate 20X more light, we get 20X more production using 1X Sun mono PV. In the past, this level of concentration has always required exotic and expensive material like triple-junction cells. Of course, the lensing cone is larger to gather more light and focus it on the smaller, inner PV cone.
What happens if the unit stops spinning? Won't the PV get fried?
Yes, if the spin stops, the section of PV under concentration will be destroyed. The spinning mechanics are very robust, but we will build in contingencies. There are several potential options to protect the PV. Each is being evaluated for cost, reliability, and environmental impact. One potential is to run an electric charge through the outer cone that can make it opaque.
Does the unit have a 20-year warranty like solar panels?
V3Solar is in the business of energy production and innovation. You would not want the same mobile phone you could buy a decade ago. The important number is your Levelized Cost of Energy – what is the price per kilowatt hour including all costs over time? At V3Solar, our focus is lowering that number. With that said, all of the components within the Spin Cell have proven commercial applications of over 30 years. The Spin Cell includes PV, power electronics, and electromagnets combined in a way that has never been done before. The Spin Cell is designed for new systemic retrofits that will increase energy production and efficiency. Cutting edge, with no bleeding edge. We think many of our customers will want to upgrade their energy production as we develop more breakthroughs, and we plan to create a trade in program where older models can go to developing markets. Of course customers will always have the option to enjoy the long-life of our reliable products. Some people like to get a new car every three years. Others love to keep driving the classics. We will offer a warranty, and the length of warranty will be determined by how quickly the ROI is achieved through the power produced by the Spin Cell.
Why is it shaped like a pyramid?
The vertical sides of the cone capture light more efficiently at every sun angle, with no tracking.
Is it loud like a wind turbine?
The Spin Cell makes a very low, resonant hum. You can only hear it if you are within a few feet of the unit and it is surprisingly pleasing to the ear.
Can this go on my roof like flat panels?
We are exploring various aesthetic solutions from ground mounts in the yard to mounting along the edge of the roofline. By avoiding penetrating your roof, we can save on permits and time. Plus, if we are going to change the future, it might as well be beautiful!
How can I buy one now?
We have recently finished our initial prototype to prove our claims. We are now testing and fine tuning. The Spin Cell is like an engine with hundreds of pistons. To get the most energy, we need the entire unit to be "tuned" properly. This is one of the reasons that we are focused on the commercial applications of the CoolSpin design. We can get to market faster and generate revenue, while we continue to refine the Spin Cell. There will be a press release when the technology is commercially available. To manage expectations, it won’t be before 2014.
How can you support your claim as “The most efficient energy under the sun”?
Fossil fuels may be less expensive, but they are not efficient. According to Dr. Nocera, in the May 14, 2012 issue of the New Yorker, “Every year, by burning fossil fuels, we release a million years of photosynthesis.” That can’t continue forever. Hydro power is low cost, but you still have to build the power lines from the dam to the point of consumption, same with nuclear (which has other problems). By converting energy more efficiently than other solar technologies at the point of consumption, we defend our trademark.
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