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Posts tagged ‘evacuated tube’

International Training and Standards Good for Solar Thermal

As a company that is both financially and personally invested in the future of solar thermal energy production, Solar America Solutions is always interested in domestic and international news that demonstrates our industry is moving forward. One such piece of news is a recent announcement by the Regional Center for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (RCREE) of plans to begin an online training course for solar water heater quality assurance. The RCREE is an independent organization with a mission of advocating for the adoption of efficient energy practices and renewable energy systems in the Arab region.

Its new online program provides candidates with the necessary training to qualify for certification under a number of different initiatives, including the Solar Heating Arab Mark and Certification Initiative (SHAMCI). The seven-module course is intended to be self-paced but completed in about three weeks. Successful candidates will be fully competent in solar thermal installation and certification. Each module is followed by an online test; completion of all seven modules automatically generates a certificate.


Why This Is Important

The renewable energy sector has discovered what the computer technology sector discovered back in the 1990s: certification and standards remove trade barriers, promote better quality in both manufacturing and installation, and provide end-users with the best products at the best prices. Organizations such as the RCREE now understand that introducing certified training and standards will contribute to furthering the solar thermal industry in the Arab region.

Why is this important to us in the United States? Because our training and standards, though they do exist, are far from what they need to be. Watching and learning from other countries will enable our industry to do a better job of redefining what our training and standards ought to be. That will only be good for the industry.

It is also important in light of the fact that the development of training and standards show that solar thermal technology is making significant inroads into renewable energy systems. If solar thermal were not catching on, there would be no need to develop training programs and standards. The fact that the RCREE and other international bodies are pursuing training for official certification clearly indicates they believe solar thermal will continue to expand.

Solar Thermal in the U.S.

America is at a slight disadvantage compared to other countries around the world inasmuch as we tend to be a lot more cautious about adopting renewable energy sources. Where solar thermal is concerned, the industry has certainly made enormous strides over the last 5 to 10 years. We hope to make even bigger strides over the next decade.

Solar thermal is an excellent option for space heating and hot water due to its high-efficiency and output. As we have demonstrated in a number of our projects, a strategically deployed solar thermal collector array can generate enough energy to supply the average commercial building with more than 60% of the hot water and space heat it requires. The secret to our success is our industry-leading SunQuest 250 evacuated tube solar collector panel.

The SunQuest 250 captures ultraviolet energy from the sun in an evacuated tube that prohibits nearly all energy loss. That energy is then transferred to a thermal liquid that is sent to the interior, where a heat exchanger extracts it before the thermal liquid returns to the collector panel. Extracted energy is used to heat water and produce space heat.

The development of training and standards demonstrates solar thermal is here to stay. It is time for you to consider getting on board as well.


  • Solar Thermal World –

Solar Thermal: Can the ESCO Model Work Here?

Energy Service Companies (ESCOs) in the U.S. endeavor to save customers money by guaranteeing lower pricing structures over a set period. These companies do not produce energy themselves; they install and pay for energy saving equipment and processes for their customers then pay the monthly utility bills for them, at a rate that should be lower than they would have been without the improvements. Their customers then pay them a monthly rate that is derived from taking an average of what their energy bill would have been without the improvements. The ESCO then makes a profit on the difference and the customer gets a fixed energy price and free improvements to their systems. Since ESCOs were introduced into the U.S. market, there has been plenty of debate over whether or not they indeed offer significant savings.

In other parts of the world, ESCOs are starting to develop models that include generating energy through solar thermal. The question we are looking to answer is how the ESCO model can best take advantage of the fuel savings realized by installing solar thermal systems for their customers. We think it can be significant and, in fact, we are working with our first ESCO project now and they are monitoring the results. We are confident that this test will open many future commercial applications for ESCOs that utilize our SunQuest 250 evacuated tube solar thermal panels for their business model.


What They Are Doing

Spain offers an excellent example of how ESCOs in other countries are using solar thermal to generate energy. Rather than just purchasing energy from utility companies, ESCOs are building their own solar thermal installations, metering the energy they produce, and then selling the energy to customers for the purposes of providing space heat and hot water. It is a very popular option in Spain for hotels and nursing homes. Some ESCOs are also deploying solar thermal for large, multi-unit residential buildings.

Making it all possible is a government program that provides low-interest loans to ESCOs. To date, the program has loaned some €2 million to ESCOs willing to install solar thermal systems. The funding has provided for 42 registered companies that have thus far completed 18 projects. The Spanish government says there is still €3 million available under the program. It is possible the program could be extended if all of the money is used in the future.

Bringing the Model Here

Solar America Solutions believes the model being used in Spain and elsewhere is very workable in the U.S. The biggest hindrance seems to be financing and consumer buy-in. While solar thermal installations are not excessively expensive, they are not yet mainstream enough to be an obvious consumer choice. However, we believe the benefits of new and efficient solar thermal panels will gain public interest and will become a key component to ESCO’s energy saving options.

Once a solar thermal system is paid for, it becomes a pure profit generator year after year. The amount of energy that could be saved would more than pay for future equipment upgrades while still generating significant profits for the ESCO.

At the customer level, greater savings could be realized through static energy costs. ESCOs are already built on the model of providing improved energy-saving systems at no charge and assuring their customers that their energy costs will remain stable for the next 20+ years. Customers would pay less be able to budget their energy costs without having to hedge against unanticipated energy cost increases.

Solar America Solutions could be a huge part of this model if ESCOs could be convinced to take a serious look at it. Our SunQuest 250 evacuated tube solar panel provides a very powerful base on which to build an efficient and cost-effective thermal energy system. Just a single SunQuest 250 is capable of producing over 30,000 BTUs per hour and stagnation temperatures as high as 490°F. Even more important is the fact that the panel does not require direct sunlight. It utilizes ultraviolet rays instead, so it performs quite well even on cold, cloudy and overcast days.

We believe solar thermal can be a viable platform for ESCOs to produce energy. Let us hope the model catches on here in the United States.


  • Solar Thermal World –

Australian Farm Proves the Benefits of Solar

In southern Australia, dairy farming is an important part of the local economy. And just like their counterparts in other parts of the world, dairy farmers in the region are looking for cost-effective ways to meet their hot water needs while still maintaining an emphasis on sustainability and protecting the environment.

Earlier this year, dairy farmers Doug and Lyn Crosby found just the system they were looking for. It is an evacuated tube solar collection system tied to a heat exchanger to provide all the hot water needed to clean their dairy equipment.

The Crosby’s installed the system in hopes that it could save them at least a little bit on their monthly energy bills. They were astounded to discover it actually saved them an incredible 72%. At that rate, expect the solar thermal collection system to pay for itself within 2.5 years.

How it Works

The system installed by the Crosby’s is remarkably similar to Solar America Solutions’ SunQuest 250 system. It utilizes a solar thermal collector panel mounted on the roof of the farm’s main barn. The collector panel is made up of 32 evacuated tubes employing an absorption material that collects energy from the sun.

The heat from that absorption material is sent into a heat pipe and then circulated through a heat transfer liquid. The liquid runs directly to a heat exchanger, which heats the water needed by the farming operation. The entire system is incredibly efficient.

The two most important aspects to note about evacuated tube solar collectors are:

  • Absorption Material – Evacuated tube solar collectors like the SunQuest 250 are superior to their flat plate cousins because of the absorption material used, the lack of heat loss back into the atmosphere, and their efficiency in using the sun’s UV rays instead of its infrared rays. And because ultraviolet rays penetrate cloud cover and are not impacted by the outside temperature, direct sunlight is not needed.
  • Vacuum Principal – Solar thermal collector tubes from Solar America Solutions are designed as dual-tube systems. In between the two tubes, we create a vacuum for maximum efficiency. This vacuum virtually eliminates heat loss back into the atmosphere, a key factor in their 94% efficiency.

Scalable Solutions

The SunQuest 250 solar thermal collector panel is ideal for commercial applications because of the massive amounts of heat they generate. Because our system is fully scalable, larger buildings and manufacturing processes can benefit from Solar America Solutions products.

Just last year we installed a three-panel system at a poultry farm in Ohio. The owners of the farm wanted it to replace aging boilers and supplement heat for the hot water they needed for their egg washing operation. Not only did the system supply all of their hot water needs, it proved so efficient the farm is adding a second system when they expanded later this year.

Evacuated tube solar collectors are the perfect solution for hot water and space heat in just about any environment. Solar America Solutions is proud to be part of this exciting industry; we would love to show how we could help you.