A Review of Photovoltaic Thermal (PVT) Technology for Residential Applications: Performance Indicators, Progress, and Opportunities
1.1. Energy Transition, Transformation and Access Perspectives
1.2. Summary of Recent PVT Review Articles
2. Aims of the Paper and Literature Review Methodology
3. Review of PVT Studies
3.1. Water-based PVT Systems
3.2. PVT Air
3.3. PVT Bi-fluid
3.4. Concentrated PVT
3.5. Economics of PVT and CPVT Systems
5. Progress and Opportunities
- The thermal efficiency of a typical solar thermal collector is higher than that of a PVT collector of similar thermal capacity. The following factors contribute to the lower thermal efficiency of PVT collectors. First, in PVT collectors, part of the solar energy is converted into electricity. Moreover, the materials used in PVT modules have a low absorption coefficient and high emissivity. Furthermore, there is additional heat transfer resistance between the cell/absorber plate and the coolant, reducing the heat removal factor. Additionally, PVT modules have a low heat loss coefficient due to the selective absorption characteristics of PV cells, where long-wave radiation is offered through low emissivity by the largely reflective metallic contacts on the back of the panel. Reflective losses from cover glass (~5% loss in optical efficiency) also contribute to the lower thermal efficiency of PVT collectors [32,35,36,37]. The fluid outlet temperatures suitable for space heating and domestic hot water are above 60 °C, and in this case, the cell temperature would be around 70 °C . However, the achievable system temperature is limited by the desired cell temperature to maintain optimum electrical efficiency, making the PVT collector suitable for low-temperature applications (25–40 °C). According to Sandnes et al. , for the desired cell temperature of 45 °C, the inlet fluid temperature cannot exceed 40 °C for unglazed PVT collectors and 30 °C for glazed PVT collectors, depending on thermal characteristics and the given conditions (solar radiation = 800 Wm−2, ambient temperature = 20 °C, wind speed = 1 ms−1). Moreover, it happens that the electrical efficiency of PVT systems drops during the summer due to the high temperatures of the working fluid [99,155]. It has been observed in this review that crystalline solar cells were used more in the study of PVT systems. However, since the temperature coefficient of these solar cells are not the best and will lead to efficiency losses at higher temperatures, it may be possible to consider the solar cells (heterojunction) with better temperature coefficients [67,169].
- The majority of studies used direct contact, thermal adhesive or mechanical fixing to integrate the PV cells and the thermal absorber. However, these methods are characterized by poor thermal removal, formation of bubbles/gaps in the case of high solar intensity and increased thermal resistance, leading to decreasing the overall performance of the PVT system. Thus, EVA lamination with mechanical press-fitting has been proposed instead of a three-layer (encapsulant, TPT and adhesive layer ) joining to enhance the heat transfer between PV cells and the absorber metal, and is supposedly the best option. It has been reported that the thermal resistance is reduced by 9.9%  when compared to conventional integration techniques. However, during the summer, the PVT collector surface temperatures can be higher than 130–140 °C, leading to stagnation temperature and damage of structural material such as EVA resin, which starts degrading from 135 °C. This degradation may lead to accelerating ageing and the reduction of absorption and then delamination. In addition, the sensitivity of mono-crystalline and polycrystalline cells to mid and high temperatures is a significant concern for overall PVT performance , since they have a negative temperature coefficient , and the efficiency drops by 0.45% °C−1. Due to this phenomenon, the reliability of the PV module may be affected since the nominal lifetime of silicon cells is assured only for PV temperatures lower than 85 °C [106,174]. On the other hand, amorphous silicon cells facilitate the use of metallic substrate, reducing the thermal resistance of PVT and exhibiting a positive power temperature coefficient in the long-term operation at medium and high temperatures reaching higher efficiencies at a degraded steady state. Hence, a detailed durability analysis under stagnation conditions and amorphous solar cells used in conjunction with the modern solar collectors or heat pumps with temperature requirements higher than 98 °C can be studied both numerically and experimentally in the future [95,106,175].
- Radiative cooling of buildings has been considered at the research level for many years; however, it is not commercialized because of the low power density involved. So, it is essential to research cost-effective solutions for radiative cooling applications using PVT, similar to the study by Eicker et al. . However, their study did not perform any cost analysis, and it is an interesting area of research to explore whether the proposed radiative cooling PVT systems are techno-economically feasible for domestic applications.
- High heat flux on the cells in the CPVT systems limits the high-temperature applications, and this can be reduced by spectral beam splitting by using a bandpass or bandstop filter . However, even after the splitting, most radiation falling on the cells is converted into heat and need better cooling technologies than those used in a conventional flat plate PVT collector. Radiation flux distribution is another challenge in designing CPVT systems affected by non-uniformities due to mirror shape error, gaps between mirrors and receivers support posts.
- The coupling of the CPVT system with heat pumps for meeting the cooling demands has been studied in few articles for domestic applications. It was observed that there needs to be a compromise between the electrical and thermal energy to enable the AHP coupling because the temperature required (reported to be 90 °C in one of the studies ) to make the heat pump work is significantly higher than the outlet fluid temperature from the conventional PVT systems. Thus, in these cases, the temperature required for the AHP limits the electrical efficiency of the CPVT system. In addition, further theoretical and experimental studies need to be carried out on the optimization of the CVPT system for different climatic conditions.
- PVT and CPVT systems have the potential for applications in CCHP. However, as discussed in many studies, conventional PVT collectors do not have the same ability for cooling applications as it is and will require modifications because the amount of solar energy received by the PVT panels is lower than what is the case with CPVT. Additional equipment  is needed to ensure more solar energy is incident on the PVT collector, leaving scope for new designs in PVT systems for CCHP.
- The use of nanofluids as an optical filter and heat transfer coolant has been an interesting area of research for the last few years. However, most of the studies are based on parametric analysis, and it is often not sufficient to define the best operating parameters for given climatic conditions. Hence, multi-objective optimization  studies considering the selection of base-fluid, type of nanoparticles, selection of PV cells, system size, coolant channel location, nanoparticle volume fraction and thermal storage unit size can be conducted to investigate the impact on efficiencies. In addition, the existing studies involving parametric analysis will act as a framework for both multi-criteria optimization and experimental research. Spectral filtering CPVT systems have shown the ability to displace a significant amount of carbon emissions due to their better thermal efficiencies. However, a detailed life-cycle assessment and multi-criteria decision analysis studies will help in understanding the actual techno-economic, environmental, social and legal aspects of the proposed system for residential applications.
- Many studies in photovoltaics cooling have used the laminar and turbulent flow characteristics to extract heat. However, CPVs operate at higher temperatures, and it is required to apply other heat transfer techniques such as nucleate boiling heat transfer  for thermal management. There is sufficient evidence of its potential for high-temperature systems, and it should be studied for different residential buildings and energy demand profiles. In addition, the cost–benefit analysis of such novel systems, multi-objective optimization, and exergo-economic analysis can be performed in the future.
- PVT systems are generally coupled with heat pumps, as discussed earlier, to use them for CCHP applications, and increase the primary energy savings. However, this increases the overall system costs, and hence, alternative smart building energy business models involving the selling of energy to local communities or grids using output from PVT technology [91,178,179] are necessary. The techno-economic opportunities and barriers of building and managing such small power and heat grids can be studied in detail in the future. In addition, the number of studies aimed at optimal control strategies using a model-based approach is limited in the area of PVT, and it is noted that this would be a useful approach to find the optimal solution of the multi-objective optimisation problem .
- As discussed in Section 2, numerous earlier studies were focused on converting a conventional PV into PVT by integrating a heat recovery and storage system. However, as the demand for new PVs grows, the number of decommissioned or end-of-life solar panels and batteries will also increase, which in turn will result in increases in the PV panel waste. This situation will not make the energy transition sustainable since the cumulative PV panel waste by 2050 was expected to be at least 60 million tons at a 4500 GW PV capacity . In addition, it has been predicted that 80% of the PV waste stream would constitute prematurely failed products . Therefore, it is useful to conduct techno-economic and environmental studies on second-life PV panels for PVT systems. Since the economic value of PVT systems also depends on PV panels  and much of the environmental impact is from the fabrication of PVT collector , second-life PV panels can promote the circular economy to reduce environmental impact. Generally, PVT systems have lower electrical efficiency if the water temperature requirements are high. Thus, second-life PV panels can be a potential candidate for integrating into the PVT system and leveraging the benefit of overall energy efficiency and a possible improvement in the payback time of greenhouse gas emissions. PVT systems do not generally perform well during winter like other solar energy technologies. Therefore, integrating the PVT with upconverter and downconverter [183,184] materials, which can used with both direct and diffuse light, can help in improving the annual electrical and thermal efficiencies. In addition, the PVT structure, including the packaging factor, is an area where significant developments are needed, as demonstrated in .
- The techno-economic analysis studies that were analysed in this review focused mainly on the NPV and cost payback period. However, few studies have reported the negative environmental impact of PVT systems . It is important to study the energy payback time and greenhouse gas emissions payback time to understand the positive effects on pollution and environment, which will make it possible to assess the environmental superiority of PVT over other green energy generation technologies.
- Most novel designs in both PVT and CPVT are either short of experimental validation, or lack experimental studies involving sufficiently long terms. This is due to limited time and higher costs. Moreover, several parameters influence the system’s performance in a residential setup, and it is often cumbersome to study all these the relevant parameters in a single study. Hence, statistical approaches such as artificial neural networks  are being developed to forecast the performance under various weather conditions, as they can model engineering systems without the need to solve complicated mathematical models. Research using ANN for PVT or CPVT performance and predictive maintenance is limited and has scope for many future studies focussing mainly on long-term analysis and multi-objective optimisation.
- Research on PVT systems for CHP and CCHP applications for residential households lacks sufficient experimental investigations using real-time loads and supply conditions. Detailed energy and exergo-economic studies for residential homes by considering the local electrical and heat incentive schemes will optimise the systems for given climatic conditions. It is also useful to assess the co-generation ability of different hybrid energy systems involving PVT or CPVT technology. The heat storage potential of PVT-PCM systems is 50% higher than conventional PVT-water systems, and PVT-PCM offers better power output and period of thermal energy availability. However, PVT-PCM systems have issues including low thermal conductivity and improper charging and discharging cycles when the PCM is not properly selected. This can be improved by using the nanoparticles along with the PCM. Furthermore, the integrity of the PVT-PCM system during long-term operation and the risk of leakages should be studied experimentally [50,104].
- Integrating different renewable energy sources increases the system’s versatility and will contribute to the energy security of the site. However, this increases the system complexity, and sometimes it might be useful to have a standalone multi-generation system that could meet the end-user demands. Accordingly, there were few studies [148,149,186] on multi and tri-generation using solar energy where the PVT and CPVT elements exhibited great potential for meeting the energy and heat demands. Future perspectives include extensive studies on the geometry of collector entrapment to reduce thermal energy losses, nanofluids as working fluids and detailed economic, exergo-economic and exergo-environmental assessment of these systems to improve the overall energy efficiency.
- Standalone solar energy systems also involve integrating the PVT with seasonal energy storage systems . These systems are very useful where the grid connection is not feasible or returns on the sale of energy are not competitive. Few demonstrations proved the ability to store and shift the heat load across the seasons without detailed modelling of the storage systems. Prospects include life-cycle analysis of such systems at high operating temperature, focusing on the thermal energy storage system.
Institutional Review Board Statement
Informed Consent Statement
Data Availability Statement
Conflicts of Interest
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|Step 1||Boolean expression: TITLE ((“photovoltaic/thermal*” OR “PV/T”) AND TITLE-ABS-KEY (residential OR domestic))||Abstract, Title, keywords|
|Step 2||Boolean expression applied to title only||Title|
|Step 3||Search results selected from steps 2 and 3 refined to articles only excluding review papers and conference papers||Articles|
|Step 4||Search results refined to year range 2000–2020||Years: >2000& <2021|
|Step 5||Search results limited to few specific journals||22 Journals|
|Step 6||List of significant studies marked for review||Studies aimed at the objectives of this review|
|Step 7||Addition of significant studies excluded in step 2, 3 and 5|
|Step 8||Match and remove duplicates from both web of science and Scopus search|
|Step 9||Studies shortlisted for review|
|Without solar collector||1032||256||-||-||-1650|
|PV+T (16 m2 + 16 m2)||813||137||14||1030||-295|
|Uncov- PVT- 32 m2||951||198||9||2186||+666|
|Cov- PVT- 32 m2||827||140||14||1559||+216|
|Cov-LE- PVT-32 m2||799||130||15||1487||+181|
|Ref||Purpose of Study||Selective Performance Indicators|
|||Thermal performance of an active building with PVT modules||Net heat gain of wall, System’s COP|
|||Analysis of multigeneration system with CPVT and hydrogen storage||Energy efficiency, Exergy efficiency, Exergy COP, Exergy destruction rate|
|||Performance analysis of heat pump coupled PVT and PCM storage||Thermal efficiency, Electrical efficiency, Solar irradiation intensity, Investment and operation and maintenance costs, Output power to grid|
|||Optimisation of unglazed PVT coupled with heat pump and storage tanks||Solar electrical fraction, renewable energy fraction, Inverse seasonal performance factor|
|||PVT and ST coupled for combined heat and power||Primary energy saving efficiency, Temperature of PV, Outlet water temperature|
|||Performance assessment of PVT & heat pump for combined heat and power||Heat pump COP|
|||Novel parabolic trough solar collector and PVT for multigeneration systems||Exergy destruction ratio, exergy destruction rate, Hydrogen production rate|
|||Performance analysis of PVT in Iraq||Electrical demand fraction, Auxiliary and electrical power|
|||ANN based assessment of grid-connected PVT in Iran||Performance ratio, solar fraction|
|||Dynamic analysis of ground source heat pump coupled to ST and PVT||COP of heating and cooling|
|||PVT organic Rankine cycle power generation||Overall efficiency|
|||Glazed PVT for domestic hot water production in multifamily building||Useful electrical gain|
|||Techno-environmental assessment of PVT on a residential home||Annual carbon dioxide reduction|
|||Life cycle assessments of PVT coupled heat pump||Net present value, System lifespan expense including investment and maintenance costs, mortgage payment, periodic costs, and income tax savings|
|||Energy, economic and comfort analysis of BiPVT||Discounted payback period, Indoor thermal comfort|
|||PVT with thermal storage for a smart building energy system||Hot water volume, Energy utilisation factor|
|||Analysis of residential PVT in two similar climates||Global efficiency|
|||Experimental analysis and simulation of PVT||Primary energy savings|
|||Thermodynamic analysis of PVT-fuel cell system for CHP, fresh water and hydrogen production for buildings||Heat rate|
|||PVT system for net zero building and freshwater production||Monetary benefit|
|||Energo-econmic analysis of PVT coupled to heat pump, adsorption chiller and battery storage||Economic Savings, Payback period, State of battery charge|
|||Utilisation of low temperature heat from BiPVT system for operation of an adsorption chiller||System electric energy exchange to electricity demand ratio|
|||Analysis of PVT system integrated to phase change material with rotary desiccant cooling||Solar thermal contribution|
|||Energy analysis of PVT coupled to exhaust air heat recovery system and a thermal wheel||Fractional pressure drops in the channel|
|||Exergetic and thermo-economic modelling of façade integrated PVT||Storage tank exergetic efficiency, Battery exergetic efficiency|
|||Analysis of micro-PVT system||Optical efficiency of PVT, Heat loss coefficient|
|||Comparison of PVT and PV plants||Primary energy reduction, Primary efficiency|
|||Long term environmental impacts of spectral filtering CPVT||Spectral transmittance of nanoparticles|
|||Roadmap for next generation PVT collectors||Annual energy yield, Target cost at which PVT becomes competitive|
|||Simulation of high temperature multi-generation system based on CPVT collectors||Profit index|
|||Life cycle assessment of PVT system for domestic applications||Mean daily efficiency, Environmental impact|
|||Techno-economic assessment of PV and BiPVT system retrofit in Canada||Energy savings|
|||Performance comparison of BiPVT and other solar technologies||Cost of energy saved|
|||A comparative study of PV, ST and PVT systems for net zero buildings||Energy import/Energy export ratio|
|||PVT system for domestic hot water and electricity production||Life cycle savings|
|||Analysis of series connected PVT collectors||Instantaneous efficiency|
|||Improvement potential of BiPVT system||Improvement potential|
|||Performance of PVT system based on cell type for residential applications||PV cell efficiency|
|||Environment life cycle analysis of PVT||Energy payback time, greenhouse gas payback time|
|||Simulation of PVT based trigeneration system||Energy fraction for hot water|
|||Annual study of heat pipe PVT system||Average electrical gain|
|Ref||System & Location||Study Type||Cooling Fluid||Type of Collector||Type of PV||Performance Results|
|||PVT & France||N||Air and water||Copper flat plate||p-Si|
|||Glazed PVT & Hongkong||E||Water||Aluminium flat box with fins||mc-Si|
|||Glazed PVT & New Delhi||N||Water||Flat plate|
|||Glazed BiPVT & New Delhi||N||Air||-||mc-Si|
|||Glazed Reflector PVT & Maragheh city||E||Water||Evacuated tube and brass channels in Flat Aluminium box||mc-Si|
|||PVT & Pisa, Italy||E||Water||Polycarbonate box||p-Si|
|||Glazed PVT with heat pump, storage tank and gas heater & Lvliang, China||E||Water||Aluminium flat plate|
|||Glazed PVT & Hefei, China||N||Water||Aluminium flat plate||mc-Si|
|||Glazed PVT||E||Water||Aluminium flat box||mc-Si|
|||Glazed PVT with storage tank & Esbjerg, Denmark||N||Water||-|
|||Glazed PVT, heat pump & Nottingham, UK||N||Water||Ethylene vinyl acetate plastic back and polyethylene heat exchanger||p-Si ||Payback period is 4.15 years.|
Feed in tariff is better scheme than the smart export guarantee scheme for energy generation.
|||1.25 kWp Glazed PVT, storage tank & Kuala lumpur||E||Water||-||p-Si|
|||Glazed PVT, storage tank & Mosul, Iraq||N||Water||Copper sheet||-||Thermal solar fraction = 56.4% @ Area= 6m2|
|||Glazed PVT, storage tank, Heatpump & Belfast, UK||N||Water||Copper sheet||mc-Si|
|||Glazed PVT, storage tank, battery & Strasbourg, France||N||Water and glycol||-||mc-Si|
|||Glazed PVT, storage tank & Warsaw, Poland||N||Water||Copper sheet||p-Si|
|||Unglazed PVT & Chengdu, China||E||Water||Aluminium plate (grid channel)||p-Si|
|||Unglazed PVT, storage tank & Sichuan, China||E||Water||Roll bond aluminium plate||p-Si|
|||Glazed PVT, seasonal storage system & Newcastle upon Tyne, UK||N||Water||Aluminium plate||mc-Si|
|||Glazed and Unglazed PVT, storage tank, Greece||E||Water||Copper sheet||p-Si||The differences between maximum electrical efficiencies for glazed and unglazed setups for the operational temperature range (40–60 °C) are 0.3–0.4% only.|
|||Fresnel lens concentrated PVT and unglazed PVT, Tehran||N||Water and glycol||Copper sheet||mc-Si|
|||PV, Glazed and Unglazed PVT||E||Water||Aluminium sheet||mc-Si|
G= 1000 W/m2, Vw=2 m/s, Ta= 35 °C, Tf,i= 40 °C
|||Glazed PVT & Dhahran, Saudi Arabia||N||Nanfluid and Water||Stainless steel plate||p-Si||Nanofluid:|
|||PV, Glazed and unglazed PVT, storage tank & Chennai, India||E||CuO/water nanofluid and water||Copper sheet||p-Si||PV: |
|||Unglazed PVT & Sydney, Australia||N||Air||-||mc-Si||The air duct delivery system accounts for more than 23.4% of energy necessary for operating the fan for an optimised PVT air system.|
|||Unglazed PVT with dual tracker & Bandar Baru Bangi, Malaysia||E||Water||Aluminium plate||a-Si|
|||PV, PVT & Copenhagen||E||Water||Aluminium layer||mc-Si|| (PVT)|
|||Unglazed PVT & Malaysia||E||Water||Stainless steel||p-Si|
|||Glazed PVT, storage tank & Athens, Munich, Dundee||N||Water||Aluminium box||mc-Si|
|||Glazed PVT & Ghardaia, Algeria||E||Air||Galvanized iron||mc-Si|
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Bandaru, S.H.; Becerra, V.; Khanna, S.; Radulovic, J.; Hutchinson, D.; Khusainov, R. A Review of Photovoltaic Thermal (PVT) Technology for Residential Applications: Performance Indicators, Progress, and Opportunities. Energies 2021, 14, 3853. https://doi.org/10.3390/en14133853
Bandaru SH, Becerra V, Khanna S, Radulovic J, Hutchinson D, Khusainov R. A Review of Photovoltaic Thermal (PVT) Technology for Residential Applications: Performance Indicators, Progress, and Opportunities. Energies. 2021; 14(13):3853. https://doi.org/10.3390/en14133853Chicago/Turabian Style
Bandaru, Sree Harsha, Victor Becerra, Sourav Khanna, Jovana Radulovic, David Hutchinson, and Rinat Khusainov. 2021. "A Review of Photovoltaic Thermal (PVT) Technology for Residential Applications: Performance Indicators, Progress, and Opportunities" Energies 14, no. 13: 3853. https://doi.org/10.3390/en14133853