Hybrid Solar Thermal-PV Systems

Detailed overview of innovation with sample startups and prominent university research

What it is

Hybrid solar thermal-PV systems combine solar thermal collectors and photovoltaic (PV) panels to generate both electricity and heat from sunlight. This integrated approach offers several advantages over standalone solar thermal or PV systems, including increased energy efficiency, improved system performance, and greater flexibility in meeting diverse energy needs.

Impact on climate action

Hybrid Solar Thermal-PV Systems under Solar Thermal augment climate action by maximizing energy output and enhancing system efficiency. By combining photovoltaic and solar thermal technologies, these systems optimize solar energy utilization, reduce reliance on fossil fuels, and accelerate the transition to clean, renewable energy sources, mitigating carbon emissions.


  • Solar Thermal Collectors: These collectors capture sunlight and convert it into heat, which can be used for various applications, such as water heating, space heating, and industrial process heat.
  • Photovoltaic (PV) Panels: PV panels convert sunlight directly into electricity.
  • System Integration and Control: Hybrid systems require sophisticated control systems to manage energy flows between the solar thermal and PV components, as well as to optimize overall system performance.
  • Thermal Energy Storage: Thermal energy storage systems can be integrated into hybrid systems to store excess solar heat for later use, providing a more consistent and reliable heat supply.
  • Hybrid System Design: Different hybrid system designs exist, depending on the specific application and energy needs. These designs can vary in the ratio of solar thermal to PV capacity, the type of solar collectors used, and the integration of energy storage.

TRL : 7-8

Prominent Innovation themes

  • PV-Thermal (PVT) Collectors: PVT collectors combine PV cells and thermal absorbers into a single unit, generating both electricity and heat simultaneously. This technology offers a more compact and efficient way to utilize solar energy.
  • Concentrated Solar Power (CSP)-PV Hybrid Systems: Combining CSP with PV technologies can create hybrid systems that offer increased energy generation and improved grid stability. CSP can provide dispatchable power and thermal energy storage, while PV offers high efficiency and lower costs.
  • Smart Hybrid System Controllers: Advanced control systems and AI algorithms can optimize the operation of hybrid solar thermal-PV systems, maximizing energy efficiency and ensuring a balanced supply of electricity and heat.
  • Building-Integrated Hybrid Systems: Integrating hybrid solar thermal-PV systems into building facades or roofs can provide a more aesthetically pleasing and functional building envelope while generating both electricity and heat for the building.

Sample Global Startups and Companies

  • Absolicon:
    • Technology Enhancement: Absolicon specializes in hybrid solar thermal-PV systems that combine photovoltaic (PV) and concentrated solar thermal (CST) technologies. Their systems use sunlight to generate both electricity and heat, offering higher overall efficiency compared to standalone PV or CST systems. Absolicon’s innovative design integrates PV modules with solar thermal collectors to maximize energy output and versatility.
    • Uniqueness of the Startup: Absolicon stands out for its focus on hybrid solar solutions and its patented technology for integrating PV and CST systems. Their hybrid systems enable simultaneous generation of electricity and heat, making them suitable for applications such as electricity generation, space heating, cooling, and industrial processes.
    • End-User Segments Addressing: Absolicon serves a diverse range of customers, including residential, commercial, and industrial sectors, seeking integrated solar solutions for energy production and thermal applications. Their hybrid systems are deployed in buildings, industrial facilities, agricultural operations, and district heating projects, providing sustainable and cost-effective energy solutions.
  • Cogenra Solar (acquired by SunPower):
    • Technology Enhancement: Cogenra Solar developed innovative hybrid solar thermal-PV systems that combine PV modules with thermal collectors to capture both electricity and heat from sunlight. Their systems utilize concentrated photovoltaic (CPV) technology to achieve high solar conversion efficiency and thermal absorption for heating applications. Cogenra Solar’s solutions offer dual benefits of electricity generation and thermal energy production.
    • Uniqueness of the Startup: Cogenra Solar was a pioneer in the development of hybrid solar thermal-PV systems, offering a unique approach to maximizing solar energy utilization. Their patented technology enabled efficient and cost-effective integration of PV and thermal collectors, making their systems suitable for various applications, including commercial and industrial heating, cooling, and process heat.
    • End-User Segments Addressing: Cogenra Solar targeted commercial and industrial customers seeking integrated solar solutions for energy efficiency and cost savings. Their hybrid systems were deployed in facilities requiring both electricity and thermal energy, such as hotels, hospitals, data centers, and manufacturing plants, providing a sustainable and reliable source of power and heat.
  • DualSun:
    • Technology Enhancement: DualSun specializes in hybrid solar thermal-PV panels that combine PV electricity generation with water heating functionality. Their panels feature a unique design with PV cells integrated into the top layer and water channels beneath, allowing for simultaneous production of electricity and hot water. DualSun’s innovative technology maximizes solar energy utilization and system efficiency.
    • Uniqueness of the Startup: DualSun stands out for its focus on integrated solar solutions for residential and commercial buildings. Their hybrid panels offer a compact and versatile alternative to traditional solar PV and thermal systems, enabling homeowners and businesses to optimize their energy use and reduce utility costs.
    • End-User Segments Addressing: DualSun serves homeowners, property developers, and building owners looking to implement sustainable and efficient energy solutions. Their hybrid panels are ideal for residential rooftops, multi-family buildings, and commercial properties seeking to harness solar energy for both electricity generation and hot water production, enhancing energy independence and reducing carbon footprint.

Sample Research At Top-Tier Universities

  • National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL):
    • Research Focus: NREL is a pioneer in research on Hybrid Solar Thermal-PV Systems, focusing on integrating concentrated solar power (CSP) and photovoltaic (PV) technologies to maximize energy conversion efficiency and system performance.
    • Uniqueness: Their research involves developing novel hybrid solar collector designs, optical systems, and thermal energy storage solutions to capture both solar irradiance and heat for electricity generation and thermal applications. They also explore advanced control algorithms, system integration techniques, and techno-economic analysis to optimize the operation and cost-effectiveness of hybrid solar systems.
    • End-use Applications: The outcomes of their work have applications in utility-scale power plants, industrial process heat, and district heating systems. By combining the benefits of CSP and PV technologies, NREL’s research enables higher solar energy conversion efficiencies, increased grid flexibility, and enhanced renewable energy penetration in the electricity market.
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT):
    • Research Focus: MIT conducts cutting-edge research on Hybrid Solar Thermal-PV Systems, leveraging its expertise in materials science, thermodynamics, and renewable energy engineering to develop innovative approaches for hybridizing solar energy conversion technologies.
    • Uniqueness: Their research encompasses the design and optimization of hybrid solar collectors, tandem solar cells, and integrated thermal storage systems for simultaneous electricity and heat generation. They also investigate hybrid system configurations, hybridization ratios, and spectral splitting techniques to enhance system performance under varying solar conditions and load profiles.
    • End-use Applications: The outcomes of their work find applications in building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV), solar-driven desalination, and industrial process heating. By advancing hybrid solar thermal-PV systems, MIT’s research contributes to improving energy efficiency, reducing carbon emissions, and increasing energy resilience across multiple sectors.
  • Technical University of Munich (TUM):
    • Research Focus: TUM is engaged in innovative research on Hybrid Solar Thermal-PV Systems, leveraging its expertise in renewable energy technologies, system modeling, and optimization to develop scalable and sustainable solutions for solar energy conversion.
    • Uniqueness: Their research involves investigating novel collector geometries, hybrid module architectures, and hybridization strategies to maximize the utilization of solar resources and minimize system costs. They also explore advanced heat transfer fluids, phase change materials, and thermal management techniques to enhance system reliability and performance under transient operating conditions.
    • End-use Applications: The outcomes of their work have applications in off-grid electrification, rural development, and solar-powered industrial processes. By developing hybrid solar thermal-PV systems, TUM’s research supports the transition to a low-carbon energy system, fosters energy independence, and promotes sustainable development in both developed and developing regions.

commercial_img Commercial Implementation

Hybrid solar thermal-PV systems are being implemented in various applications around the world, including residential and commercial buildings, industrial facilities, and district heating systems. For example, Absolicon has deployed its hybrid solar thermal-PV systems in industrial facilities in Europe and Africa, providing both heat and electricity for various processes.