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Australia reveals PV thermal hybrid solar panel

Next generation solar panels will double up as roofing material

Traditional solar panels are installed on top of a roof
Traditional solar panels are installed on top of a roof

Australian engineers have developed a hybrid PV and thermal solar panel that can generate both electricity and heat. The engineering team, at the School of Photovoltaic and Renewable Engineering in the University of New South Wales, Australia, are now looking to integrate the technology into roofing panels.

A prototype of the solar panels has already demonstrated that it can produce warm air at 25˚C in winter temperatures. The team now plans to test the integrated roofing panels on a “living laboratory”, a local technology building. Tests will begin in late 2012.

Alistair Sproul the project’s leader, said: “The idea is that instead of simply putting solar cells on top of regular roofs, they are integrated, so that the minute the metal roofing is installed, it starts to pay back its carbon debt by pumping power into the grid and providing warm air in the winter.”

The solar panel team is also working on other green innovations, including a thermally-driven air-conditioner.