A project was recently undertaken with the objective of designing a novel photovoltaic module, which encloses groups of solar cells that can track the sun. This will allow the module itself to be mounted simply at a fixed tilt but still reap the substantial energy collecting benefits presently associated only with rotating active and passive solar tracking panels, while avoiding their significant additional complexity, cost and weight. The main ultimate goal is to design such a module to collect at least 25% more energy than a similarly-sized fixed-tilt solar panel, while limiting its added production cost to less than 25%. This paper describes the module’s specific design requirements, and the analysis and design embodiments that have led to a few closely related prototypes based on bimetallic coil actuators. It also presents outdoor test (in the state of Georgia, USA) results showing that the most recent such prototypes collected just over 6% more energy than a similarly-sized fixed-tilt solar panel.

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