SunDrum Solar, a manufacturer of hybrid PVT systems (Combined Photovoltaic and Thermal solutions) working with Sunrise Solar, recently completed its first commercial PVT system for an Aquaculture facility in Maryland. The specially designed hybrid system is composed of 240 Sunpower PV panels (78kW) and 48 SunDrum Solar collectors (31kW).
The SunDrum thermal collectors are a patent pending design that takes advantage of the excess heat generated by solar irradiance found on PV panels. PV panels currently convert 10 to 20% of the Sun’s energy into electricity. The remainder is absorbed as waste heat.
The SunDrum SDM100 thermal collector is a unique thin, flat, lightweight design which attaches to the underside of a standard PV panel to create a hybrid module. The SunDrum collector absorbs that waste heat to heat hot water while cooling the PV panel, improving PV panel efficiency up to 8%.
In total, the SunDrum PVT system is able to capture up to 75% of the suns energy. The hot water provided by the system is used to heat the fish tanks and air in All Season’s Farm’s Aquaculture facility.
All Season’s Farm produces Tilapia, a popular warm-water species. Tilapia grows best in water that is a consistent 80 degrees. The farm uses a pellet stove as a backup to the SunDrum system. When fully built, the farm will have over 14,000 gallons of water in their fish tanks and will produce over 11,000 tons of fish per year.
The solar system is also designed to provide power to a large greenhouse adjacent to the aquaculture facility and sells energy units back to the grid when production exceeds demand.
“The SunDrum system was the perfect solution for this project,” said Richard Stoltzfus of Sunrise Solar. “We could optimize the customer’s energy goals and give him the best financial return by maximizing the number of PV panels while providing for his hot water needs, all in the same footprint. We could only accomplish this with the SunDrum System.”