New solar panel technology shines in Cardiff

At the end of 2015, the UK had 842,000 solar panel installations with a total capacity of 8.7 GW. While the subsidies that fuelled this phenomenal growth are now evaporating, a successful trial of more efficient photovoltaic technology in Cardiff looks set to keep the solar ball rolling.

The new Panasonic HIT solar photovoltaic panel was successfully trialled in Cardiff.
The new Panasonic HIT solar photovoltaic panel was successfully trialled in Cardiff.

Writing in the latest issue of the ICE Energy journal, leader author Tracy Sweet of Cardiff University says a trial installation at Cardiff City Hall showed that a new proprietary monocrystalline and amorphous silicon panel system, called Panasonic HIT, performed significantly better than the polycrystalline silicon (p-Si) panels generally used in Britain.

‘Best performing’

‘On technical, environmental and economic grounds, HIT exceeded the performance of the most popularly installed photovoltaic technology in the UK, p-Si. From the analysis of simulation, experimental, environmental and economic data, HIT was found to be the best-performing photovoltaic panel technology for system installation,’ says Sweet.

‘Superior performance of HIT under diffuse sunlight conditions, typical of the UK climate, was demonstrated. Additionally, the low power output temperature coefficient for HIT makes it more suitable than p-Si for summertime operation.’

Improving performance

The researchers calculated that 8.1% of Cardiff City Hall’s annual electrical demand could be supplied by an 88 kW peak HIT photovoltaic system. They said this would ‘significantly improve’ the energy performance of the building, cutting carbon dioxide emissions by over 40 000 kg a year. They calculated it would also pay for itself in under seven years compared to 15 years for p-Si.

Sweet concludes, ‘The main barrier to adoption of photovoltaics has historically been due to the high initial cost of the system. However, a strong growth in the sector has driven down costs by around 70% over the past five years in the UK. This case study demonstrates that photovoltaic installations can be environmentally and economically feasible for commercial-scale buildings.’

For more information please contact the ICE Proceedings editor Simon Fullalove on [email protected], telephone +44 20 8744 2028.