Technically, Heliac’s solution is scalable from 13kW to GWs. However, taking the costs of planning, preparing, and installing into account, Heliac solar fields shouldn’t be less than 200 kW.
PV produces power (electricity). Heliac produces heat. The best commercially available PV panels have a conversion efficiencies below 20%. Heliac’s panels convert 80% of the incoming sunlight to heat. This heat can drive turbines generating heat at a ~33% efficiency of the 80% giving a total power efficiency around 26%. On top of which twice this amount of energy remain as waste heat. The value of this waste heat may justify the costs of buying and running the turbines.
Concentrated solar power (CSP) has been around since the 1980’s. Just like Heliac’s panels CSP works by generating heat, but where Heliac uses inexpensive, flat lenses that can be produced in very large numbers using standard industrial equipment, CSP uses expensive, curved customized mirrors. Consequently, the cost of CSP solar fields are so high that their heat generation even in the sunniest places cannot compete with heat generated using fossil fuels. From a financial viewpoint the only thing that justifies the use of CSP is that heat is cheaper to store than power. I.e. CSP is mainly used for heating a molten salt heat storage, where the stored heat is used for generating power at nighttime when PV panels can’t produce as this is less costly than storing power in batteries. Still, this is only an advantage in places with plenty of sun and/or attractive financial incentives. Heliac’s panels perform as well as CSP, but at a fraction of the costs. This makes the production of heat cheaper than fossil fuels. Even in areas with limited sunshine and without financial incentives. Which is why Heliac focuses on heat production rather than just power production
Flat solar panels have been around decades primarily as rooftop installations producing hot water and heating for private households. In recent years, flat panels have become increasingly integrated into district heating networks. For large scale usage, flat panels are challenged by a number of factors, most prominently that they cannot generate temperatures above 70-80°C. Heliac’s panels generate 40% more energy per area than flat panels – and do so up to 400°C.
No. The present version of Heliac’s panels is not dimensioned for rooftop installations.
No. Heliac’s panels are designed for installation in large-scale solar fields. Each panel is too big to be installed at private homes.