A SMALL group of Australian mum-and-dad investors and some Melbourne-based technology experts have combined to deliver a revolutionary rooftop solar power generator.
Initially invented a decade ago at RMIT, and since then progressively improved and funded by 200 small investors, Technique Solar’s first rooftop modules are now rolling off the production line in China and being installed in Australia.
Unlike conventional photovoltaic panels, the TSM units track the sun and combine electricity generation with the production of solar hot water, which acts as an energy storage system.
According to executive director John Keating, that allows the units to generate a lot more power from a much smaller roof area and to have that power available when it is needed during the morning and afternoon peaks.
“In many households up to half of the energy usage in these peak times is used to heat water,’’ said Mr Keating.
“This unit effectively stores heat energy from other times of the day, which is available when it is needed.”
Mr Keating said the 10 troughs on the TSM unit pivoted during the day to follow the sun and contained prisms that concentrate solar energy.
Having water passing through these troughs keeps the internal temperature at an ideal level, allowing for vastly more efficient electricity production as well.
Mr Keating said the combination of these factors allowed the units to reach an efficiency level as high as 70 per cent, compared with traditional photovoltaic panels, which are about the 16-18 per cent mark.
“With the current low feed-in tariffs you are much better off producing and using as much of your own energy as you can rather than relying on exporting the energy at non-peak times,’’ said Mr Keating.
He is passionate about using TSM modules in affordable and social housing, given that for many residents electricity and gas bills are a major drain on household income.
Other early adopters include shareholders and other customers who are on a waiting list, industries such as dairy and car wash businesses that need power and hot water in abundance, and high-volume home builders, who have shown a lot of interest.
One of these is Antonio Pellicano, managing director of construction company Pellicano, who is a passionate supporter of Technique Sola.