Naked Energy, a UK-based solar tech developer, is set to bring its revolutionary Virtu products to the United States. The Virtu products are rooftop solar vacuum tubes that generate both electricity and heat. The Peoria, Illinois-based ELM Companies, a US energy storage and microgrid specialist, is funding Naked Energy’s US expansion along with Barclays and Big Sky Partners.
ELM Companies has set up a new division, ELM Solar, to distribute Naked Energy’s solar thermal and PV thermal products. These products are fully modular, have a low installation cost, and are ideal for buildings with high heat demand, such as multi-dwelling residential, manufacturing plants, and hotels.
The Virtu products are said to be three to four times more efficient than traditional PV solar panels, and Naked Energy claims that they are the world’s highest energy density solar technology. The products’ vacuum tube design minimizes thermal losses to the atmosphere, resulting in high efficiency even in cold weather.
The VirtuHOT product heats water only, up to 90C (194F), from solar power. The VirtuPVT product combines solar PV and solar thermal technology to generate both electricity and heat from a single solar collector. The product is fully modular and has a low-profile design that reduces wind shear.
Lee C. Graves, chairman and founder of ELM, said that Naked Energy’s products were versatile and efficient, and the VirtuPVT was especially attention-grabbing. He said that he had seen a significant uptick in interest for renewable energy solutions across the United States and that he was pleased to be working with Naked Energy to provide the country with renewable alternatives.
Solar vacuum tubes have always been more efficient than solar panels, but they were also more expensive. However, new manufacturing innovations have brought the cost of solar vacuum tubes down. Naked Energy’s products are currently best suited to larger properties like hotels and hospitals, but with further innovation and price drops, they could become the default choice for household solar.
ELM has also announced plans to build a factory in Texas to assemble Naked Energy’s Virtu product line domestically, following the US Senate passing the Biden Administration’s climate bill, the Inflation Reduction Act. This act has spurred on a race in the United States to manufacture renewables domestically.