Experimentation, modelling and applications of a novel low-cost air-based photovoltaic thermal collector prototype
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This paper focuses on the design of an innovative low-cost air-based photovoltaic/thermal collector prototype, for which a novel dynamic simulation model is suitably developed in order to investigate its energy performance and economic feasibility under different operating conditions. The main novelty of this photovoltaic/thermal collector is the low-cost heat extraction system, implemented to reduce the photovoltaic cells temperature and to recover thermal energy. The prototype is tested under different operating conditions and the experimental data are used to validate the presented simulation model. The developed tool, implemented in a MatLab code, is used for analysing a suitable case study. The photovoltaic/thermal collectors are coupled to an air-to-air heat pump for space heating of a sample building. A novel performance map of such a coupled system is built with the aim of linking the heat pump coefficient of performance to both the outdoor air temperature and incident solar radiation. In addition, the system energy effectiveness and economic feasibility, compared to those of a traditional system, are assessed for the climate of 8 different European weather zones. Simulation results highlight the effectiveness of the proposed system, estimating primary energy savings (11.0–19.7 MWh/year corresponding to 52–80%), avoided carbon dioxide emissions (4.64–10.4 tCO2/year), and simple pay-back periods (3.2–4.8 years).