Ed Ballard - Clean Energy pipeline - 20 Jan 2012
TVP Solar, a Switzerland-based developer of solar thermal technology, is looking for strategic partners to help integrate its cooling technology in construction projects across India, China, Latin America and North America.
The company plans to market its solar panels as an air conditioning solution in hot countries where keeping buildings cool is expensive.
“We can offer payback in below 5 years in select countries for solar-field cooling of single-story or double-story buildings that have good roof space, like data centres and shopping malls,” co-founder and CEO Piero Abbate told Clean Energy pipeline.
In countries where energy is cheap, like the United Arab Emirates, the savings generated by the panels will take two to three years longer to repay the cost of investment.
TVP Solar’s founders are its majority shareholders, which invested an initial Eur1 million at the company’s incorporation in 2008, taking consistently part in the successive Eur8 million financing round. According to Abbate, the company is nearing a close for its next Eur6 million funding round and is currently in discussions with four interested parties.
He added that the company would consider extending its current funding round to Eur10 million should an investor appear that can add value.
Combined with a funding grant worth Eur14 million with the Italian government, the latest funding round will pay for a Eur20 million construction plant in southern Italy that is scheduled to begin production in April 2013.
The facility will have an annual capacity of 300,000 square metres of panels. The remaining Eur4 million will cover operating expenses until the end of next year, by which time Abbate anticipates the company will have reached breakeven.
TVP Solar’s priority is to attract commercial partners in the engineering and building sectors that can help market the panels in Latin America, the USA, China and India by bundling the technology with construction contracts. India is the first target, and Abbate is in discussions with two large Indian industrial groups over what he described as a major commercial deal. He did not name the companies.
“We cannot penetrate China without the Chinese, in India without the Indians,” he said. “If we have a product which can be sold massively in India it can be sold massively anywhere.”
Abbate claims his company’s technology, covered by nine patents, offers two advantages over its competitors. Firstly, its high-vacuum technology increases the panels’ efficiency by allowing them to work at very high temperatures.
“You have to minimise convection losses, the heat loss generated between an element and the media surrounding it,” he said. “By extracting the air and all the gas with a vacuum pump we can suppress convection losses. A traditional collector can reach a temperature of 100 degrees centigrade; we can reach 330 degrees.”
Second, the system’s flat panel design makes the most of available space and makes the panels cheap to install and maintain. “Flat geometry has the cheapest cost profile,” Abbate explained, because it allows the manufacturerto use cheaper glass and steel than the varieties needed for cylindrical designs.
There is also very little ‘dead space’ between panels: “For a square metre of a TVP solar panel, the blue area is 96 percent, almost the entire square metre of aperture area.”
It is the first panel to combine those two characteristics, Abbate said, and the promised result is a solar-to-cooling efficiency of up to 75 percent. TVP Solar states that the dust-resistant panels are zero maintenance even in the hottest regions.
After 2013, TVP Solar plans to form joint ventures with industrial partners in China, India and Brazil who can scale up manufacturing capacity and market the technology through their commercial channels.
TVP Solar will also launch new product lines in the coming months. According to the company’s website, these will include a solar panel marketed as a substitute for conventional roofing tiles and a large-scale thermal collector to be used for grid generation.
Contact Jonathan Koifman at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on TVP Solar.