Call 317-688-8581 to discuss your renewable energy needs

Archive for the ‘Solar Heating’ Category.

German Company Takes Solar Thermal Shopping Online

It would not be unusual to assume that solar thermal and online technologies, being relatively new in the grand scheme of things, easily coexist in the same marketplace. This is not necessarily true. Take a German company that recently began allowing customers to shop for solar thermal installations online, as an example. Their business plan seems to be drawing some consternation from skeptical installers who think the online model might hinder business.

Vaillant is a German company specializing in the manufacture of boilers and heating equipment. Their new online sales platform makes it possible for customers to shop and compare without ever having to visit a showroom or call to speak with a representative. But there are a couple of catches.

europe

First, critics of the system say it is not easy to understand. Customers have to go through a two-stage process that includes a rather lengthy questionnaire designed to determine what kind of heating system they are looking for. Customers can also choose a particular price range.

The second catch is that the prices shown on the platform are only rough estimates based on current retail prices in the customer’s given market. Before any purchase is made, an installation specialist has to visit the premises to create an accurate estimate. Vaillant will be working with licensed installers to handle estimates and installations in local areas under their brand.

A Model That Could Work

Despite concerns that the online model will stifle competitiveness among local installers, it is a model that could work well once all of the details are ironed out. We can see it being especially attractive to millennials and younger baby boomers who have already shown an affinity for shopping online. Comparing without leaving home is pretty attractive.

Imagine a platform whereby the solar thermal customer could compare different equipment choices along with installers and designers. Competition tends to result in better pricing and service, potentially opening the door to more opportunities for consumers. On the other hand, competition can be stifled if the online platform provider restricts access to certain equipment manufacturers, dealers and installers.

It will be interesting to see what happens with the German program over the next 12 to 18 months. If Vaillant can make it work well, keeping both consumers and installers happy, there is no reason the same idea would not work elsewhere. Perhaps we are on the verge of seeing solar thermal become as widely adopted online as any other product in the digital marketplace.

Solar Thermal Is Cost-Effective and Efficient

We can see a lot of potential in offering solar thermal installations via an online shopping platform if, for no other reason, the fact that the internet makes it a lot easier to quantify the efficiency of solar thermal in ways consumers can understand. Through graphics, comparison charts, etc., companies could offer overviews of their equipment side-by-side with their competitors. Customers could easily see how different systems stack up against one another.

Done right, it could be a viable platform for our SunQuest 250®™ solar thermal collector panel. But we are getting ahead of ourselves. Comparative shopping platforms are not as big here in the U.S. as they are in Europe, so it’s better that we wait to see how the German platform works out.

In the meantime, we invite you to contact Solar America Solutions for more information about solar thermal technology for your commercial building. Our systems can provide more than adequate space heat, hot water, and process heat at an affordable cost that will save you money for years to come. We invite you to check out our website’s Energy Savings Calculators on our home page and get a preliminary estimate of what our system can save you on an annual basis (www.solaramericasolutions.com).

Sources:

1.Solar Thermal World – http://www.solarthermalworld.org/content/germany-vaillant-establishes-end-customer-online-platform

Solar Thermal for Space Heat and Air-Conditioning?

We are intimately familiar with solar thermal energy being used to create space heat and hot water. In fact, our patented SunQuest 250®™ solar thermal collector is one of the best tools on the market for designing solar thermal systems that pay for themselves in short order. But what about using solar thermal for air-conditioning? It’s possible, as evidenced by a brand-new project now underway in Nicaragua.

A report from Sun & Wind Energy magazine claims that a hospital in Managua, Nicaragua has ordered nearly $4.5 million in equipment and services from an Austrian company contracted to install a solar thermal plant on hospital grounds that will provide hot water and energy for air-conditioning. The project is being funded via a soft loan put together by a number of international partners. The United Nations Industrial Development Organization and National Cleaner Production Centre of Nicaragua are also involved in the development of the project.

SunQuest250

The target of the project is Hospital Militar Dr. Alejandro Dávila Bolaños, the largest hospital in Nicaragua with 400 beds. The ultramodern facility was opened in 2015 in Nicaragua’s capital with built-in plans to make it as energy efficient as possible as new technologies became available. Adding the solar thermal plant will be the first major upgrade to the hospital since it opened.

A Major Rooftop Installation

Solid is the Austrian company that has obtained the contract to install the system in Nicaragua. Plans call for a solar thermal plant with 4,450 m² of collector space on the roof of the hospital. If all goes according to plans, the completed installation will provide all of the hot water needed throughout the facility while also contributing significantly to air conditioning.

Solid may have won the contract in part because of their reputation and experience. They have been part of more than 300 projects globally, and their reputation for successful implementation of solar thermal technology most definitely precedes them. Project officials believe the Nicaraguan installation will not only save the hospital money, but it will also reduce its emissions by up to 1,100 tons of CO2 annually.

Adapting Solar Thermal to Air-Conditioning

The idea of using solar thermal as a power source for air-conditioning is not something we talk about a lot in this country. Applications here are mainly for space heat and hot water – primarily because the heat generated by solar thermal systems is easily transferable for these applications. However, adapting solar thermal for air-conditioning is no harder than adapting it to process heat.

For example, let’s say we designed a rooftop installation consisting of SunQuest 250™ solar thermal collectors, thermal heat exchanger units, and storage tanks. All of the thermal energy produced by the system could be transferred to space heating equipment or water heaters in a standard installation. But it could also be used to generate energy that would power air conditioners.

We are not privy to the details necessary to describe exactly what the plans are in Nicaragua, but we cannot imagine the system would be too complicated. Solar thermal energy production is flexible enough that it can be used in a wide variety of applications. Providing power for air-conditioning is just one of them and both adsorption and absorption chillers that convert heat to commercial air conditioning have been in use for many years. We would like to see solar thermal collectors being used as the primary heat source for that application on a more wide-spread basis.

We look forward to seeing how the Nicaragua project works out. According to Sun & Wind Energy, similar projects funded by international soft loans are planned for other parts of the developing world as well. Right now is a great time to be part of the emerging solar thermal industry.

Sources:

1.Sun & Wind Energy Magazine – http://www.sunwindenergy.com/solar-thermal/nicaragua-clinic-will-use-solar-thermal-energy-air-conditioning-water-heating

Canadian Project Utilizes Large-Scale Solar Thermal Heating

The projects we typically work on at Solar America Solutions involve individual clients looking to utilize solar thermal for hot water and space heat in commercial buildings. For example, one of our first projects was to install our SunQuest 250 solar collector panels and peripheral equipment in a new housing block at an Indiana correctional facility.

Though we are thrilled to be able to apply solar thermal technology on a building-by-building basis, we look forward to the day when solar thermal is applied to large-scale space heat and hot water needs. A revolutionary project now thriving in Canada offers a perfect example of what we are talking about.

canada

Drake Landing – Okotoks, Alberta

Take a trip up to the southern Alberta town of Okotoks and you’ll find a unique housing community known as Drake Landing. What’s so unique about it? The way the community receives its space heat. Thanks to a demonstration project sponsored by Natural Resources Canada, the average household in Drake Landing pays just $70 per month for space heat with very little need for supplemental energy from the grid. It is made possible by combining solar thermal with borehole storage.

Each of the homes in the Drake Landing community has a detached garage with a roof covered almost entirely with solar thermal flat plate collector panels. Those panels work 365 days a year, whenever the sun is up collecting infrared energy from the sun and Okotoks, it is one of the sunniest places in Canada. Had the developer known about the patented SunQuest 250® evacuated tube solar thermal panels from Solar America Solutions, these systems would have been even more efficient and required fewer panels because they draw their solar energy from the sun’s ultraviolet rays and are effective even on cold and cloudy days.

A thermal transfer liquid inside the solar collector panels converts energy from the sun into heat. That heat is transferred to the community’s energy center where it is extracted with a heat exchanger before the liquid returns to the panels. Extracted heat is stored underground in a network of 144 boreholes. It is retrieved and used for space heated as needed.

Incredible Results Thus Far

To say that the Drake Landing project is a huge success would be to state the obvious. Drake Landing’s system has consistently provided more than 90% of the heat the community’s 52 houses need during the winter since it was completed in 2007. Over the last several years, the system has provided 98% of the heat.

The linchpin of the system is its borehole storage. Engineers have created a storage model that is so efficient that it can store enough energy on summer days to heat the entire community throughout the winter season. The combination of stored energy and what is generated by the system during shorter winter days is more than enough to virtually eliminate any need for space heat generated from natural gas.

No Further Proof Needed

Those of us in the solar thermal sector have long known that storage is the biggest challenge to taking solar thermal to the next level.But the project in Canada changes everything.

From what we can tell, no further proof is needed to demonstrate that solar thermal can be implemented on a large scale to provide entire communities with heat and hot water. Solar thermal is incredibly efficient and cost-effective, especially when deployed using the right equipment. A good example is our SunQuest 250® solar collector panel, which just happens to be the most efficient panel in the industry. We would love to see it put to use in a project like Drake Landing here on American soil.

Sources:

  • CBC – http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/solar-thermal-energy-community-alberta-drake-landing-1.3436178

Minnesota Community an Example of Solar Efficiency

The temperature in rural Pine River, MN was near zero at the time this blog post was written. The cold temperatures and often overcast skies are such that most people do not consider the state a hotbed for solar power. But reality says otherwise. One need only take a look at the Pine River community to understand that solar is alive and well in an environment known for its cold and harsh winters.

Traveling the country roads of Pine River is an experience that includes plenty of pine tree stands and herds of cattle in the fields. But every now and again a clearing reveals a traditional ranch house with a surprising feature: a solar panel array on the roof or in the adjacent yard. Solar energy is so popular in this part of Minnesota that a local nonprofit known as the Rural Renewable Energy Alliance (RREAL) gives tours of area homes to show skeptics what is possible.

Property owners in the area use a combination of different solar technologies to achieve their purposes. For example, solar thermal is used to generate space heat and hot water to reduce dependence on grid energy. Some of the local homeowners have systems that are so efficient that they can completely shut off their traditional electric water heaters for 5 to 6 months of the year.

SunQuest 250

Understanding Solar Capacity

Most of us do not consider Minnesota a great place for solar installations because of its relatively high northern latitude and heavy winter storms. But according to RREAL, Minnesota has solar resources equal to that of Houston, Texas. The trick is harvesting the resource in the best way possible for both commercial and residential use.

To understand this, consider our SunQuest 250 solar collector panel. It is one of the most powerful and efficient collector panels in the industry, capable of producing up to 35,000 BTUs per hour. What you may not know is that the evacuated tube design of our panel is so efficient that there is almost no waste. Furthermore, the materials we use in the collector unit do not require direct sunlight to work. Rather, they rely on ultraviolet rays, readily available regardless of temperature and plentiful even in cloudy weather.

This means that one of our solar collector panels performs up to expectations even on cloudy and overcast days. Systems like this, operating in Pine River can convert sun energy into heat throughout the daylight hours, then use that heat to deliver hot water and space heat.

Supplemental and Replacement Energy

It is true that Minnesota experiences incredibly harsh winters that often include subzero temperatures. In the midst of a frigid winter, a traditional flat panel solar thermal system is unlikely to produce enough space heat and hot water to completely disconnect from the grid. But it with new technological breakthroughs, like the SunQuest 250 from Solar America Solutions, a significant supplement is offered that can reduce a property owner’s energy bills considerably.A SunQuest 250 solar thermal system can be a complete replacement for grid energy for hot water and heating needs or at least reduce the fossil fuel requirement by more than half. That translates into some serious savings.

What property owners are doing in Pine River can be done all over the country. Solar thermal can be used to provide space heat, hot water, and process heat for both commercial and residential structures.

Here at Solar America Solutions, we concentrate on commercial projects in the agricultural, education, healthcare, and government services sectors. Our systems have been installed in numerous states, providing green energy for hot water and space heat at government facilities, dormitories, industrial buildings, and more. We would be happy to discuss your project to see if we can provide an effective and affordable solution for your property.

Sources:

  • Brainerd Dispatch – http://www.brainerddispatch.com/news/3934539-here-comes-sun-solar-power-shines-snowy-tour

Solar Thermal Prefabrication: The Wave of the Future?

There is something exciting going on in the solar thermal industry in Germany and Belgium. In an effort to contain costs and encourage more installations, several manufacturers have developed prefabricated solutions that can be delivered, installed, and connected in a very short amount of time. Creating prefabricated systems has even created a secondary benefit of making it possible to manufacture large systems with collection area capacity of up to 1970 ft.².

The prefabricated systems are known as container systems because of the way equipment is shipped and installed. Building a container system begins by consulting with the customer to find out what the needs are. Once the size and scope of a particular system are determined, everything is built and tested at the factory. The finished product includes the necessary collector panels along with a container holding the solar water heater and all of the associated hydraulic equipment.

Building prefabricated solar thermal solutions has already proved successful in a limited number of early installations. One of the German manufacturers supplied a system for a lodge in Kenya; a system that delivers water for both guest and staff accommodations through a rooftop installation in which the collector panels and container sit side-by-side.

SunQuest250

Manufacturers of the systems claim that solar thermal prefabrication offers a number of substantial benefits that could drive the industry forward:

  • Standardization – Standardization is generally seen as a good thing in manufacturing. It results in more opportunities for more manufacturers, interoperability of systems and replacement parts, and lower costs due to manufacturing efficiency.
  • Easy Installation – Prefabricated solar thermal solutions are relatively easy to install, mainly because all of the engineering has already been completed at the factory. In some cases, systems can be installed and turned on by facility staff – without a need for any extra help from manufacturers or installation specialists.
  • Modularity – Some of the new prefab systems are fully functional with solar collector areas of up to 1970 ft.²; others utilize smaller areas. But in either case, prefabricated systems are modular. This means it is possible to create systems that include thousands of square feet of collector space with numerous containers all connected to provide a complete solution.
  • Turnkey Solutions – Lastly, the prefabricated solar thermal system is a turnkey solution that can be implemented with very little effort on site. The system can be delivered and installed on the customer’s schedule, without interrupting other things, and immediately turned on for instant production.

Prefabrication seems a logical next step as the solar thermal industry seeks to make greater inroads into the commercial market. We all realize that any need for solar thermal in residential construction will first have to be supported by commercial applications. Manufacturers need those commercial contracts to provide the financial foundation that will allow them to pursue residential in the future.

It will be interesting to see how popular prefabrication becomes over the next several years. Manufacturers in Belgium and Germany are already banking on it, making plans to create some of the largest modular systems ever made. We believe any success they enjoy will eventually motivate U.S. manufacturers looking to increase their own market share. Prefabrication is just another trend that is leading to the solar thermal wave of the future.

At Solar America Solutions, we are proud to manufacture one of the most efficient and powerful solar collector panels in the business. Our SunQuest 250 collector panel would be ideal for any modular or container system designed for a large commercial project. We invite you to contact us at 317-688-8581 for more information.

Sources:

  • Solar Thermal World – http://www.solarthermalworld.org/content/germanybelgium-container-solutions-standardise-commercial-solar-thermal-systems-0

States Investing in Solar Thermal in Greater Numbers

Ask the average American to explain solar energy applications for small businesses and homes, and he or she is likely to immediately think of photovoltaic (PV) systems that convert direct sunlight into electricity. Chances are he or she has never heard of solar thermal energy, let alone understanding how it can be used to provide inexpensive space heat and hot water. Solar thermal in 2015 is where PV was 20 years ago, in in terms of consumer knowledge. However, it is light years ahead in terms of efficiency, productivity and usefulness. States are recognizing this in greater numbers, leading them to invest in solar thermal by way of tax incentives.

Minnesota is a good example of state investment. The Land of 10,000 Lakes recently decided to renew a solar incentive program that provides tax breaks to both small businesses and residential homeowners willing to invest in solar installations. The state Department of Commerce program known as the “Made in Minnesota Solar Incentive Program” has already funded more than 340 projects in its first year of operation. The state hopes to see the same level of success, or better, for 2015.

One of the most important parts of the Minnesota program is that it offers incentives in two ways. First, business owners and residents can take advantage of tax credits to be applied toward solar installations. Second, anyone in the program who generates excess electricity can earn up to $.30 per kilowatt-hour. Combined with energy bill savings, it could add up to quite a bit of money.

Combining Technologies

Minnesota’s solar incentive program is a bit unusual in that it rewards consumers for generating electricity – in addition to providing tax incentives for solar installations. To make the best use of this type of program, participants can combine technologies to provide maximum output. The place to start is a solar thermal installation for space heat and hot water.

minnesota

Businesses and homes in Minnesota are prime candidates for solar thermal thanks to their cold winters. The solar thermal installation can provide plenty of space heat and hot water throughout the year, reducing the consumption of fossil fuels and grid-based energy significantly. A PV system can then be installed to augment the electricity needed in the structure. Excess energy can be returned to the grid to further reduce overall costs.

What We Do

The program offered by Minnesota is just one example of how the states are promoting solar energy solutions for small businesses and homes. At Solar America Solutions, we concentrate on solar thermal applications for commercial buildings. For example, one of our first projects involved the installation of a roof-mounted system at an Indiana correctional facility. Our system reduced the institution’s total energy bill by providing more than 50% of the space heat and hot water for a cellblock. The state corrections department was so impressed by the results that they are looking at contracting with us for future installations.

The idea behind solar thermal is to utilize energy from the sun to heat a thermal liquid, which can then be used to generate space heat and hot water. It is significantly more efficient than PV technology because there is very little loss of solar energy. What’s more, systems designed around our SunQuest 250 evacuated tube solar collector panel produce heat even on cloudy and overcast days and is not impacted by ambient temperatures.

The future of solar thermal is already here. We encourage you to check with your state to see what sorts of incentives exist for solar thermal installations. Solar thermal could be the perfect energy saving solution for your business, even without government incentives, because of its efficiency levels that exceed 96% efficiency.

  • Sources:
    SC Times – http://www.sctimes.com/story/news/local/2015/01/02/minnesota-solar-incentive-program-takes-applications/21219217/

Solar Thermal Not Catching on in Some States: Are Subsidies to Blame?

In the state of Minnesota, the 2014 subsidies for new photovoltaic installations have long since been exhausted. The fund for solar thermal subsidies still has $120,000 remaining, leading government officials to extend the program through the end of the year despite the previous deadline having already passed. So why the disparity? Could it be that subsidy inequities are to blame?

As with many other states, subsidies for solar thermal in Minnesota are subject to strict regulations that limit equipment manufacturers, installers, and even eligible geographic areas. In a day and age where natural gas and even propane is so affordable, businesses and individual consumers would rather continue using it for their space heat and hot water needs rather than investing in renewables. Those who do choose to invest in alternative energies tend to put their money into heavily promoted photovoltaic instead.

Made in Minnesota (MiM) program coordinator Kim Harvey says she would love to see more consumers take advantage of the funds MiM has available. She specifically mentioned agricultural operations using propane to heat barns during the winter. She said that solar thermal could go a long way toward supplementing winter propane and natural gas use, which, for agricultural purposes, can be significant.

Harvey went on to say that, qualifying commercial projects in Minnesota can receive rebates of up to $25,000 for the installation of solar thermal. MiM Is hoping to receive enough applications through the end of the year to use up the remaining money left in the fund for 2014. The program is making the money available for both commercial and residential applications.

solar-subsidy

Solar Thermal vs. PV

The subsidy inequities are likely just one contributing factor slowing down the adoption of solar thermal in states such as Minnesota. However, a misunderstanding about the differences between solar thermal and photovoltaic (PV) is also likely adding to the problem. We believe more people would be willing to embrace solar thermal if they understood the principles and efficiencies it brings to the table.

As you know, PV technology converts direct sunlight into electricity that can then be used for a variety of purposes. It is a useful technology for direct electrical generation, but it is highly inefficient and not nearly as cost-effective as it needs to be for a reasonable return on investment.

Solar thermal relies on energy from the sun to heat a thermal transfer fluid. That transfer fluid can then be used to generate space heat, provide hot water needs, or, even provide energy needed to power cooling systems. At Solar America Solutions, we concentrate on meeting space heat and hot water needs.

The advantage of solar thermal over PV is efficiency. According to PVEducation.org, the most efficient PV cells on the market works at just over 21% efficiency. The average cell used in the U.S. for commercial and residential applications is 16% to 20% efficient. By contrast, the SunQuest 250 from Solar America Solutions operates at over 94% efficiency.

We achieve such a high efficiency rating by using advanced evacuated tube technology. Evacuated tubes suffer very little heat loss, so almost all of the energy captured from the sun goes directly to providing space heat and hot water. Making the SunQuest 250 collector panel even more attractive is the fact that it uses ultraviolet rays rather than direct sunlight.

Solar America Solutions has already designed and installed systems for agricultural operations, prisons, educational facilities, and more. We would appreciate the opportunity to explain how solar thermal can be put to work for you. Solar thermal can save you tremendous amounts of money on your monthly energy bills.

Chinese Pricing on Evacuated Tubes Causing Market Confusion

As solar thermal technology becomes more popular for space heat and hot water, China is emerging as a major supplier of the evacuated tubes used to create solar thermal collector panels similar to the SunQuest 250 from Solar America Solutions. Unfortunately, recent changes in China’s export duty policy are causing confusion in the marketplace. Some Chinese companies are being charged the 17% export duty while others are not.

The confusion boils down to how Chinese manufacturers code their evacuated tubes prior to export. Tubes coded as components to be used in water heater systems are exempt from the export duty. Tubes coded under other classifications, such as glass products for example, are subject to the tax.

The largest of China’s manufacturers are electing to go with the water heater classification in order to keep their prices as low as possible. Some of smaller companies are not able to get away with that because they are selling to customers that might not necessarily be using the tubes for water heater systems.

Manufacturers are obviously troubled by the new coding system they have to deal with. Some have been in business for 10 years or longer, consistently exporting their products under the old water heater system classification. Being told by customs to use the newer code means an automatic jump in their pricing by at least 17%. Smaller companies affected by the export duty say they are already losing business to the larger companies still being allowed to continue under the old classification.

china-solar

As to why the coding system is being applied differently in various parts of China, no one really knows for sure. However, some speculate the Chinese government is trying to encourage customers to purchase complete solar thermal systems rather than just evacuated tubes. Most of the Chinese products are going directly to India where the burgeoning solar thermal market is big business. Complete systems exported to India are free from the export duty as well as India’s 12.85% import duty.

International Competition Is Good

The market confusion in China does not have a huge impact on solar thermal here in the United States yet. Nevertheless, there is still an important take away here. The fact that we are even talking about export duties on evacuated tubes used for solar thermal systems shows that the market is strong enough to encourage international competition.

Companies would not invest so much money in solar thermal components if there were no future in it. The fact that so much money is involved shows how strong the future of solar thermal is. We believe it is strong enough that solar thermal will eventually become one of the standards for renewable energy options.

The strength of solar thermal energy production is its efficiency. Solar thermal energy is very simple in terms of design, making it possible to produce a significant amount of heat energy with very little loss. That is where the evacuated tube comes into play. Absorption material within the evacuated tube collects energy from ultraviolet rays and transforms it into heat energy. The efficiency of the evacuated tube allows nearly all of that energy to be directed toward generating space heat and hot water at more than 90% efficiency.

Solar America Solutions uses the latest in the evacuated tube technology to manufacture our industry-leading SunQuest 250 solar collector panel. Each of our panels is capable of generating up to 35,000 BTUs per hour, at temperatures of up to 475° F. One of our systems can produce hot water and space heat for your commercial building at a fraction of the cost of conventional power sources.

Massachusetts Legislation Promotes Solar Heating and Cooling

The Massachusetts state legislature took a step forward in promoting solar heating and cooling in the Bay State, by approving legislation that would extend alternative energy credits to businesses and consumers taking advantage of the latest SHC technologies. The legislation was approved in early August 2014 and sent to Governor Deval Patrick for his signature.

Known simply as SB2214, the law provides financial incentives for developing and using solar technologies for heating and hot water. The comprehensive bill includes nearly every type of solar application, including the solar thermal systems designed and installed by Solar America Solutions. The bill also provides incentives for other alternative energy technologies, including biofuels and air source heat pumps.

Companies in the solar industry are especially pleased with the legislation given the fact that solar is now the fastest growing source of renewable energy used in America. They believe now is the time to capitalize on that fact.

The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) estimates that the solar power industry now employs some 143,000 individuals across the country. They anticipate passage of SB2214 will result in up to 5,900 additional jobs in Massachusetts by 2020.

massacheusetts

The Future of Solar

At Solar America solutions, we believe the future of solar power in the U.S. is intrinsically tied to the evacuated tube technology we have helped to develop. As attractive as photovoltaic (PV) and concentrated solar power (CSP) have been to consumers and businesses over the years, neither technology is as efficient and cost-effective as evacuated tube designs. It is only a matter of time before evacuated tube systems can produce the raw power necessary for large-scale applications. Until then, more businesses and government entities are discovering the benefits of evacuated tube solar thermal for space heat and hot water.

An evacuated tube system, like the SunQuest 250, uses highly efficient collector materials that absorb ultraviolet rays from the sun. These collector materials are encased in evacuated tubes, allowing the system to use 94% of the energy absorbed. That energy is transferred from the collector panel to a heat exchanger by way of a constantly circulating thermal liquid. The heat extracted from the liquid can be immediately used to produce space heat and hot water or, in the case of excess, stored in tanks for later use.

There are a number of measurable advantages to using systems like the SunQuest 250 for commercial applications:

  • Small Footprint – Our 25-tube collector panel provides 88 ft.² of absorption area while requiring only 21 ft.² of installation space. The incredibly small footprint of evacuated tube systems makes the best use of limited roof space without sacrificing production.
  • Cost Savings – A single SunQuest 250 collector panel can generate more than 30,000 BTUs at stagnation temperatures of over 475°F. With that kind of energy production, the system can pay for itself in 3 to 5 years. Furthermore, the amount of money saved by not having to use energy from the grid adds up substantially over time.
  • Scalability – Our evacuated tube collector panels can be added to as customer needs increase. In essence, we offer a highly scalable, modular system that can meet just about any need.

Solar America Solutions has already designed and installed a number of successful solar thermal systems at sites around the country. The SunQuest 250 is the right solution for providing space heating and hot water for your office, government, agricultural, or industrial building. We urge you to contact us so that we can design a custom solution that will save you money while also helping you participate in the renewable energy revolution that is sweeping the country.

Three Reasons El Salvador Is Emerging Solar Thermal Market

Companies in the solar thermal industry are always looking for new markets in which to introduce their products and services. Here in the United States we have not even begun to scratch the surface for solar thermal, and our culture is such that achieving widespread acceptance is a very slow process. However, that is not the case in other countries. In fact, one country that looks very promising is El Salvador.

The Central American country of 5.7 million people is a relatively small market compared to a country the size of the US. However, they might be more ready to indulge the solar thermal industry now than we are. Here are three reasons we believe El Salvador is an emerging solar energy market, including solar thermal applications:

1. High Dependence on Fossil Fuels

El Salvador currently uses diesel fuel to generate 41% of its electricity. Among all fossil fuel choices, diesel fuel is the one choice that makes the least practical sense from an economic standpoint. Diesel is comparatively expensive and significantly more polluting. For example, consider sulfur.

In the United States, the upper limit of sulfur in diesel fuel is 15 ppm. The El Salvadoran limit is 5,000 ppm. That is a lot of pollution that could be brought under control by switching to cleaner energy sources.

el-salvador

2. Rising Electricity Prices

The price of electricity in El Salvador is roughly $0.20 per kilowatt-hour. Making matters worse is the fact that the average consumer has only about 27% of the purchasing power as the average American. That means that the individual in El Salvador can purchase only about 27% of what an American can afford on his regular take-home pay. When your purchasing power is that low, paying $0.20 per kilowatt-hour for electricity is rather steep.

3. Changing Laws

In recognition of their energy problems, the government of El Salvador has enacted a series of new laws designed to create incentives for renewable energy. One of the things they are targeting is the use of solar thermal for hot water generation. Already there is a push to see solar thermal put into use in hospitals and in the hospitality sector.

The current energy conditions in El Salvador make the country ripe for solar thermal development. In the meantime, companies like Solar America Solutions will continue working on developing the market here at home. We have already put our systems into use across a wide variety of commercial buildings for both space heat and hot water applications.

The strength of our system is our highly efficient evacuated tube solar collector, the SunQuest 250. By combining this collector panel with state-of-the-art control units, solar tanks and other peripherals, we can design a custom system for your building regardless of its size or location.

Each solar 7’ x 7’ collector panel requires a footprint of only 3′ x 7′ for deployment. The 88 ft.² of absorption area collects energy from the sun’s ultraviolet rays and converts it to heat. Our evacuated tube design allows the collector panel to generate up to 35,000 BTUs per hour at temperatures as high as 475°F. Imagine all of the hot water and space heat you can generate with that kind of energy.

Solar America Solutions would be honored to design a custom solar thermal solution for your commercial building. Please contact us for more details or to find a local dealer near you.