R3A08: Icarus Hybrid Photovoltaic/Thermal Solar Plus Storage Cogeneration System

Icarus RT, Inc.

Recipient

San Diego, CA

Recipient Location

39th

Senate District

77th

Assembly District

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$100,722

Amount Spent

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Active

Project Status

Project Update

Icarus is currently developing the manufacturing process for the Icarus photovoltaic panel heat extractors. The company is working with 3M and California Manufacturing Technology Consulting to optimize the process. The next set of manufactured heat extractors will be sent to Underwriters Laboratory and Solar Rating Certification Corporation for product safety certification and performance testing in June and July 2023. Following the certifications, approximately 1,100 heat extractors will be manufactured for installation on several projects including EPC-21-016. Icarus is also testing roll-bonding as an alternative manufacturing process. Icarus has contracted Black and Veatch as the Engineering, Procurement and Construction contractor for the installation of the EPC-21-016 project. Icarus continues to test enhancements to the design, materials and system to improve PV power output, heat transfer, heat collection and heat storage.

The Issue

In 2021, the US solar industry installed 23.6 GWdc of new solar capacity (Wood Mackenzie, 2021). Despite the explosive growth of grid-tied solar energy and installed capacity, the industry continues to face challenges over available energy storage options and photovoltaic (PV) technology. PV panels remain highly inefficient, converting less than 21% of the solar energy that strikes each panel into electricity. This efficiency is typically measured under standard design conditions at an ideal temperature of 25°C. In the field, panels heat up well beyond design temperature each day, often reaching 65–80°C. As panels heat up, their performance drops approximately 0.4–0.5%/°C; the panels produce less power. Thermal cycling causes fatigue which reduces panel life and lifetime performance. In addition to PV inefficiency, there is a mismatch between daily solar energy output and utility peak power demand periods. Consequently, lithium-ion (Li-Ion) battery storage is growing; however, Li-ion batteries bring other challenges. In 2021, the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) predicted for 2030 that a middle-ground cost of a 4-hour Li-Ion system would be $198/kWh to install in addition to PV installation expenses (Wesley Cole, 2021). Furthermore, Li-Ion battery charging consumes PV output, reducing the economic return on the PV system. High costs and panel inefficiencies deter consumers from commitment to current solar plus storage technology.

Project Innovation

Icarus will install a 280-kW Quartet hybrid PV/T solar plus storage cogeneration system and up to 20 EV charging stations at the Chula Vista Police Department Headquarters. The Icarus Quartet system extracts waste heat from PV panels to improve PV performance, collects and stores heat energy, and converts heat energy into hot water on-demand. The results of the proposed project will demonstrate several aspects of commercial readiness as well as produce real-world data on panel cooling, performance improvements, energy storage, and cost savings. The project will also provide insights on manufacturing, installation, and operation to assist Icarus in quickly expanding into its beachhead markets where new policy has created a need for alternatives to natural gas hot water heating and comprehensive solutions for meeting the state's decarbonization goals.

Project Goals

Develop full budget and schedule with Black & Veatch.
Obtain UL and SRCC product safety certification.
Obtain UL and SRCC performance validation.
Manufacture 1,100 heat extractors.
Successfully complete entire project installation on time within budget.

Project Benefits

This Agreement will lead to technological advancement and breakthroughs to overcome the limitations of PV and energy storage technologies that are barriers to achieving California's statutory renewable energy goals. Additionally, this agreement will provide for demonstrating the cost competitiveness of commercial hybrid solar PV/T systems plus storage systems against solar PV plus Li-Ion systems. Icarus' Quartet system will do this by generating additional power from a PV/T array through panel cooling and making use of the waste heat to generate hot water for the buildings it services.

Lower Costs

Affordability

The Icarus technology is expected to result in an average panel efficiency increase of at least 12%. For the 280-kW system being demonstrated in this project, this amounts to an additional 50,000-kWh generated annually with a value of $15,000 from improved efficiency alone. Icarus' technology can also provide on-demand hot water, which will displace energy required for electric water heating.

Greater Reliability

Reliability

Icarus' technology increases panel efficiency during the hottest part of the day, which typically aligns with peak electricity demand hours, leading to a higher share of renewable generation during those hours.

Key Project Members

pic of Mark Anderson

Mark Anderson

CEO & Founder
Icarus RT

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