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Solar Thermal Already Goes Beyond Electricity

A professor at Australia’s Institute for Mineral and Energy Resources at Adelaide University was recently quoted as saying, “if we want to tackle the greenhouse gas emissions problem, we have to look beyond just electricity.” His comments were made in relation to a research project investigating the possibility of using solar thermal to replace electricity in mineral processing. Well, we have good news: solar thermal already goes beyond mere electrical generation.

Professor Graham Nathan is absolutely correct in principle. We have to look at every possible use of solar thermal if the technology is ever to reach its full potential. But it is important that we make one thing clear: generating electricity is not the only thing we are doing with solar thermal technology.

It is true that large solar thermal power generation plants exist in both the U.S. and elsewhere. It is also true that most of these plants use mirrors to concentrate solar energy on boilers that generate electricity by powering steam turbines. But the model used by these power plants does not constitute the only way to use solar thermal power. Solar America Solutions does something that is completely different but equally important.

 

Space Heat and Hot Water

Solar America Solutions was awarded a patent in 2015 for our SunQuest 250™ solar thermal collector panel. In awarding the patent, the government recognized the uniqueness of our technology along with the benefits it offers for renewable energy. In short, there is no other panel in the industry that does what the SunQuest 250™ can do.

When we install a system featuring our panels in a commercial building, that system can often generate all the space heat and hot water needed during the daylight hours. With appropriate storage on-site, unused energy can be preserved for use once the sun goes down. More importantly, a Solar America Solutions system can pay for itself in five years or less.

Another remarkable thing about our solar thermal solutions is that they do not require a huge amount of space to be cost-effective. One of our 25-bulb collectors offers 88 square feet of absorption space in an area that is just 3′ x 7′. A single collector is capable of developing 35,000 BTUs per hour and output temperatures upwards of 500° F. That is a lot of raw power in a very small space.

The SunQuest 250™ solar collector panel is the key to a highly efficient space heat and hot water system. Combined with our peripheral equipment and storage solutions, a Solar America Solutions system can significantly reduce the amount of money spent on thermal energy.

The Solar America Advantage

One last thing we want to point out is the advantage our customers have after installing a Solar America Solutions system. Unlike photovoltaic solutions and solar thermal based on concentrated solar panels (CSPs), our systems don’t rely on direct sunlight for energy absorption. We utilize an absorption material that collects energy from ultraviolet rays. That means the SunQuest 250™ continues absorbing and transferring energy even on cloudy days and does not need to “track” the sun.

That advantage is further enhanced by an evacuated tube design that is highly efficient. Evacuated tubes allow for very little heat loss under normal conditions; our use of evacuated tubes makes our systems among the most cost-effective in the industry.

We are thrilled to know that researchers in Australia are looking for ways to harness solar thermal energy for mineral processing. We have no doubt they will come up with a more than adequate solution. In the meantime, we want to remind readers that solar thermal already goes well beyond power generation.

Sources:

ABC Australia – http://www.abc.net.au/news/rural/2016-04-20/solar-thermal-may-cut-alumina-process-emissions/7339318

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