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The path towards zero energy buildings is fraught with many challenges, the onsite renewable energy production to drive consumer appliances that are not low or zero energy is an important challenge. Therefore, developing the energy production such that the production mode is matched to the usage mode is the simplest manner to improve efficiency. As such, energy consumption for lighting could be significantly reduced by optimizing the building`s design to maximize direct daylight usage, similarly cooking using solar stoves, or water heating using solar geysers eliminates the need for PV cells to generate electricity. The most important energy consumption in most buildings is HVAC (accounting for approximately 40% of a building`s energy consumption) which can be addressed with the use of a solar power absorption chiller. This article introduces the design of a novel solar concentrated photovoltaic thermal (CPVT) system that produces electricity and thermal energy simultaneously from the same surface area. The goal of the proposed system is to provide sufficient heat for an absorption cooling system, water heating as well as to produce electricity in a cost effective way.

The CPVT system is designed to operate over a wide spectrum (400nm upward contains around 90% of the incident solar radiation spectrum). In the proposed system, solar irradiation is highly concentrated (to the equivalent intensity of approximately 100 suns) onto a single point, using a dual axis sun tracking concentrator with a Fresnel lens. A filter then separates the infrared (IR) from the visible light (VL) components using an imaging lens (viz. a hot mirror which has approximately a 98% filter efficiency). The IR is then utilized for heating while the VL components power the PV cell.

The efficiency of the electricity generation in the PV cell improves when the IR component is removed from the incident solar irradiance. High-temperature high pressure water, at approximately 95-120oC (203–248oF), is generated by the IR and serves as a heat source for the absorption cooling system (lithium bromide water / ammonia-water). The proposed system is expected to deliver electricity at the rate of 0.08 W/cm2 (0.2032 W/in2) of PV cell area, and around 0.04W/cm2 (0.1.016 W/in2) collector area. Given that the ratio of collector area to PV cell area is ±9:1 this allows us to design the relative size to suit the building requirements.