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Sep 152009

Green Right Now Reports

Looking to improve the cost efficiency and aesthetics of solar power, a New Jersey company, EarthSure, has decided that solar panels should be buried in the earth.

No they’re not trying to win the “renewal energy miscalculation” award, they have developed a way to funnel solar light to the buried panels, which would gather solar power from the transported light (like solar tubes). The new operation would be unseen, and would not require that rooftops be converted into glassy conversation pieces.

Homeowner’s associations listen up:

“No unsightly above-ground solar panels need to be used anymore. This is an enhancement not only in economics and in the green movement, but a great technological improvement in the area of design and construction as well,” the company reports in a news release.

More importantly, says Ray Saluccio, the founder and CEO of EarthSure, burying the “Subterranean Solar” panels (also dubbed “Subsolar” panels) would take them out of the elements. And by placing them in sealed underground containers — essentially entombing them in prefabricated pressurized casings — they would be far better protected than a rooftop installation would be, he says.

With solar rooftop panels, “you have a leaking issue, you have an installation issue, you have the elements. I don’t know of any harsher atmosphere than somebody’s roof,” Saluccio says.

The Woodbridge, N.J., entrepreneur, who operates a commercial garbage collection company using automated sweepers, has not yet obtained funding to build a prototype.  He says he has received a lot of positive feedback from colleges and others interested in exploring his model and he believes that his new buried energy generators will generate interest among forward-thinking builders and architects.

The SubSolar system (patent pending) would have just a small rooftop presence, employing a solar collection disk that’s about three feet in diameter to capture and magnify the sun’s rays, which would be transferred via fiber optics to the underground storage panels.

Company tests show that the light can be transferred successfully, and while some is lost to diffusion, the Subsolar system can make up for that loss with collection efficiencies. Unlike a flat panel roof solar installation that can only capture a portion of the day’s sunlight (when the angle of the light hitting the panel is right) the Subsolar’s smaller mounted collection disk tracks the sun, collecting rays all day long, Saluccio says.

Furthermore, the underground chambers would keep the panels cool and dry, making them more productive and longer lasting, he says. Rooftop solar panels, by comparison, get baked in the sun and can be harmed by storms.

Will it all work? Time will tell. One thing’s for sure. It’s an idea that’s out of sight.