Production of electricity from solar water heaters
 Posted on 30/05/2014 - 19:08
Idea Outline
We are developing a technology that transforms solar water heaters into cogeneration units that produce electricity in addition to hot water, and we plan to embed it into a domestic appliance that will be connected to pre-existing solar water haters.

The Challenge
Despite the extensive solar infrastructure that has been installed across countries of the EU27 energy dependency on fossil fuels remains largely unmitigated. Our small domestic application aims to capitalize on the vast and unexploited existing solar thermal infrastructure in countries of the EU27 which is estimated to over 20 million solar water heaters and give birth to a new source of renewable energy. We estimate that through our solar application, existing solar water heaters in the EU can generate up to 6GW of clean electricity that will be directly supplied for domestic usage. As such, our technology we can actively contribute to the effort against energy insecurity, increased domestic energy expenditure and environmental pollution, Europe's most pressing problems.

The Solution

Our small domestic application, the "solar power kit" will be connected to domestic solar water heaters to transform them into cogeneration units that produce electricity in addition to hot water. By coupling the solar power kit to a typical domestic solar water heater, a household will be able to reduce its annual electricity bill by 20% and cover its entire demand for hot water. Therefore, at a retail price of 800€ it is expected to constitute a truly cost competitive energy solution. A potential phase 1 award will be invested in the procurement of mechanical components necessary for the finalization of the construction of the first prototype of the solar power kit whereas a potential phase 2 award will be invested in the protection of its technology's intellectual property rights.

Target group and social impact
The solar power kit will offer households a "turn key" energy solution able to cover a significant portion of their electricity expenditure while capitalizing on pre-existing solar thermal infrastructure. Its small size and easy installation will allow it to be sold in retail stores, a fact that will facilitate its virality, increase its impact and render it the first domestic solar application to be sold as a consumer good electrical appliance. Its impact will be highly significant in countries of Southern Europe where the increased insolation levels and pre-existing solar water heaters can become a source of inexpensive renewable electricity, and therefore contribute to the amelioration of households' financial status and environmental preservation.

Competences of the applicant
Our team consists of three mechanical engineers. Nick has experience in the energy sector and has already co-founded another startup company engaged in the energy efficiency of buildings. Panos and Tasos have experience in optimization having participated in the optimization of the supply chain of a food industry and the optimization of the operation of a natural gas power plant respectively.

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    latitude at which the energy gain is calculated?

    Idea Submitter

    Calculations have been made for the area of Southern Europe

    Interesting idea, but will this ever compete with PV in terms of financial and/or technical efficiency?

    Idea Submitter

    According to our preliminary experimental results, the solar power kit can achieve production of 280Watts per square meter of solar thermal collector(twice as much compared to typical photovoltaic panels), whereas the average production cost of electricity is expected to rage at 1.2 euro per watt(approximately half compared to typical photovoltaic panels).