UK solar start-up Naked Energy has signed an agreement with US-based manufacturer Jabil to scale up the production of its hybrid solar technology, Virtu.
The technology combines photovoltaic cells and a heat exchanger to produce power and heat, offering the potential to boost financial returns and carbon savings for buildings deploying the technology.
Under the terms of the deal announced on 14 December, Jabil has agreed to support Naked Energy in making Virtu available to a global market, as well as providing expertise in the integration of the solution in buildings and related systems.
Christophe Williams, chief executive of Naked Energy, said: “Partnerships with big businesses and academia have been critical to our development. Climate-KIC, one of our first partners, got us off the ground, funding research to validate and characterise the core technology, but also mentoring, facilitating introductions and providing project finance. This new agreement with Jabil is a key milestone along the road to full-scale commercial rollout.”
The patented high efficiency vacuum tube technology can be installed on pitched, curved and flat roofs or on vertical facades / walls. The design eliminates the requirement for additional framing and offers intelligent system controls to allow end users to optimise the heat and power generated to best suit their individual needs.
“Jabil has been hugely impressed by the innovation and commercial benefits of Virtu, and is keen to support its commercialisation,” said David Kipling, vice president of corporate investment at Jabil.
“With renewables forming an ever more important part of our energy supply, Virtu is an enabling technology that needs scale to unlock its potential. Jabil can support Naked Energy to achieve that scale through dedicated manufacturing facilities and our supply chain expertise.”
Manufacturing for customers in the UK, Europe and North America has already started, with installation of commercial pilot projects planned for early 2016. A full commercial launch will take place later in the year.
The new deal with Jabil follows a period of funding success for Naked Energy after it secured €1.3 million (£1 million) of funding in January 2014.