A system to test the hybrid module was installed at Daito Onsen Seatopia. (source: NEDO)
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New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) and Nisshinbo Mechatronics Inc announced Nov 24, 2016, that they have developed a "thermoelectric hybrid solar panel" and started a verification test at Daito Onsen Seatopia in Kakegawa City, Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan.

The thermoelectric hybrid solar panel system is a facility that uses sunlight to generate electricity and solar heat to produce warm water. The power generation efficiency and heat collection efficiency of the installed system are 15.5% and 62.5%, respectively (78.0% in total).

The system to be tested is Japan's largest-scale hybrid panel system and uses 140 units of the newly-developed hybrid panel. Tap water flows through 112 of the hybrid panels, and the warmed water is supplied to existing warm-water facilities. Also, hot spring water flows through the rest of the panels (28 panels), and warmed hot spring water (temperature: 40° or higher) is supplied to footbath facilities.

The thermoelectric hybrid solar panel is a 160W monocrystalline silicon panel with both sides made of glass, and it consists of 36 cells.

The warm water production area on the bottom side is equipped with a 40m-long cross-linked polyethylene pipe. The pipe is coated with special carbon black-added elastomer material to form a spiral shape. The wavelength conversion function of the special elastomer material converts infrared light contained in sunlight to far-infrared light, which can be easily absorbed by water. As a result, it becomes possible to efficiently produce warm water.

NEDO and Nisshinbo will continue the verification test until February 2017, checking the power generation efficiency, heat collection efficiency and reliability of the power generation/heat collection system. And they will make efforts to reduce the production cost of the hybrid panel and further improve reliability, aiming to commercialize it at an early date.