One of the most intriguing displays at Las Vegas this year at the N.A.B. (National Association of Broadcasters) Convention was the large solar and alternative power walk.

Both sides of the path featured a range of options (from different companies) of solar cells suited to the large suck-up that electronic news gathering or even entire outside broadcast vans or remote studios. People were genuinely positive about making the switch and there were collector systems, solar trackers, unbreakable solar panels and systems suited to lights, communication device charging, solar backpacks that would power computers and solar well pumps. The Patriot Solar group featured a range of standard solar PV cells.

Something new to me, however, was the Italian designed and made Solergy Cogen (cogeneration) HCPV (High concentrated Photo Voltaic) which magnifies the sunlight with an all-glass concentrating lens and also re-uses the heat that results (touch your panels – they get really hot!). The tracker feature ensures that the system is never in the shade.

Solergy is based in Silicon Valley, USA and they claim to harvest more energy per cell than any other system. It looks different as its magnifiers are like large bowls across the system and it makes sense that it would be more efficient. I was wondering to what extent this additional heat could be captured, directed into a heat exchange and used to power a pool heater, an air-conditioner, a fridge, you name it! They claim that a full system can cost almost 2/3 less than the standard PV cells. Covering the roofs of television studios could harvest enough energy to power the place!

What I looked at were systems tailored to media use but of course, all are just as useful for covering car-park roofs, inner-city skyscrapers, concrete walls (fireproof), on the roofs of stadia. It would also be great to put a cell on every single grave in cemeteries and turn all this useless space into something with a purpose. The power could just pump into the grid!

Either system is ideal for use, say, in third-world nations where the connection of power is a dream rather than taken for granted as a standard utility.

It was extremely heartening to see the interest in these displays amongst the media techos from all over the world, demonstrating that they are genuinely trying to make a change in what has traditionally been an energy-guzzling industry.

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