World’s most efficient solar panel invented by Mayo firm

5 Feb 2009

An Irish renewable-energy technology company is to create 20 jobs after producing what it claims is the world’s most efficient solar panel.

Surface Power in Co Mayo says it plans to create 20 jobs over the next 12 months with the launch and international distribution of its breakthrough product.

Independent Certification by TUV Rhineland – the world’s leading testing house – has shown that when compared to other leading solar panels, the Irish-developed panel was in one case as much as 131pc more efficient in morning and evening time, and 76pc more efficient at midday.

Established in 2003, Surface Power is targeting key world export markets for renewable commodity products. The Údarás na Gaeltachta and Enterprise Ireland-backed firm has played a central role in the development of the domestic renewable-energy sector, especially micro generation.

Surface Power estimates that its product, which has undergone six years of development and testing, has the potential to reduce domestic and commercial hot water bills by up to 70pc, if insulation standards meet new building regulations.

Company founder John Quinn believes that having a very good product result will help drive growth and jobs for the company in 2009.

“The market for the solar collector was worth in excess of US$1bn in 2008, and has grown by 300pc since 1998,” Quinn said.

“We received over 400 enquiries from the US alone last month after the specifications were released during the Christmas period. We also expect the international home renovation market to be very strong during the next three years, as our collector is the only pre-packaged vacuum collector on the world market.

“This leads to quicker, simpler and cheaper installations,” Quinn added.

“Our solar panel has been compared to 52 other collectors, which hold the prestigious Solar Keymark certification, and the results of the comparative testing are excellent.

“The biggest difference that was achieved in comparison results was against flat plate collectors. It is great to see the end of a product development cycle and a huge spike in enquiries from the renovation market in Europe and US. We have several more products in development and plan to release one per year,” Quinn said.

The solar panel is a hot water type designed specifically for the retrofit market, although it is also perfectly suitable for new builds. 

It was designed to deal specifically with Irish climatic conditions such as wind, rain and cloud. Solar hot water can be used in domestic homes and commercial applications such as shower rooms, hotels and swimming pools.

“It may be classified as new technology, and is simpler to use and install, but it is not more expensive to produce,” said Quinn. “Its cost per kilowatt is its biggest advantage, while it can generate up to 70pc savings on hot water bills when coupled with an insulation upgrade. We can reduce the cost of achieving a solar installation by 50pc when measured against efficiency.”

By John Kennedy