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Posts tagged ‘Renewable Energy’

Canadian Project Reaches 100% Space Heating Milestone

Canadian officials embarked on an ambitious solar project in 2007 intended to test the limits of solar thermal for district heating purposes. What they have learned in nearly ten years of operation has led to significant improvements that allowed the project to reach the incredible milestone of providing 100% of the space heat required by the project’s 52 energy-efficient homes. While Solar America Solutions has historically focused on commercial applications for solar thermal, we are nonetheless impressed by this accomplishment and recognize the value of district heating as a very viable solution in a residential setting.

The Drake Landing Solar Community outside of Calgary consists of 52 rather spacious homes utilizing solar thermal for both space heat and hot water. Heat is provided via a district heating model that collects and converts solar energy to heat energy at a central location and then piped to homes on its circulation loop. What is not needed immediately is stored in one of two borehole storage tanks for later use. Hot water is provided on a house-by-house basis through individual solar powered water heaters and gas supplementation.

Canada

If you were to see an overhead shot of the neighborhood, you would see each home with a solar collector panel array mounted to the garage. The energy from those panels benefits every member of the neighborhood through district heating and hot water.

Natural Resources Canada has said that the system provided 100% of the required space heat for the 2015-2016 heating season. That is impressive, to say the least. The neighborhood system was originally intended to achieve a solar fraction of about 93% per year, but improvements to the system have helped Natural Resources Canada achieve the 100% milestone.

Sufficient Heating with Less Electricity

Drake Landing officials are obviously pleased with the results as well. For them, it is all about providing district heating at the lowest possible cost. According to project officials, solar thermal district heating uses 8 to 10 times less electricity than traditional heat pumps, which is important in a region that has year-round heating needs. Even in the midst of summer, district heat is still required in the Drake Landing community.

Officials are confident that the results they achieved during the previous heating season are repeatable. Though they aren’t saying whether they will reach 100% again this year, they are confident that they will start seeing repeat seasons in the future.

What It Means to Us

Here at Solar America Solutions, the importance of Drake Landing’s milestone is not lost on us. We have always believed that the potential of solar thermal for space heating and hot water is greater than anyone knows, which is what has prompted us to design and build our patented SunQuest 250™ solar thermal collector.

Every day, we are hearing more stories about the success of solar thermal for both residential and commercial applications. This motivates us to continue developing our own technology for the benefit of our customers. The further we can push the solar thermal envelope, the better we will be at meeting the needs of a world changing before our eyes.

We believe solar thermal is the future of renewable energy at multiple levels. Solar thermal already represents one of the most efficient and effective ways of generating energy for hot water and space heat on a property-by-property basis, and there is no reason to believe its potential for more widespread applications is limited. It’s a matter of simply scaling up the technology for size.

Our hats are off to Drake Landing and the impressive performance of their solar thermal project. After ten years of developing reliable renewable energy, they have proven that solar thermal both works and is commercially viable.

Sources:

1.Solar Thermal World – http://www.solarthermalworld.org/content/canada-solar-district-heat-meets-communitys-entire-space-heating-demand

Canadian Project Reaches 100% Space Heating Milestone

Canadian officials embarked on an ambitious solar project in 2007 intended to test the limits of solar thermal for district heating purposes. What they have learned in nearly ten years of operation has led to significant improvements that allowed the project to reach the incredible milestone of providing 100% of the space heat required by the project’s 52 energy-efficient homes. While Solar America Solutions has historically focused on commercial applications for solar thermal, we are nonetheless impressed by this accomplishment and recognize the value of district heating as a very viable solution in a residential setting.

canada

The Drake Landing Solar Community outside of Calgary consists of 52 rather spacious homes utilizing solar thermal for both space heat and hot water. Heat is provided via a district heating model that collects and converts solar energy to heat energy at a central location and then piped to homes on its circulation loop. What is not needed immediately is stored in one of two borehole storage tanks for later use. Hot water is provided on a house-by-house basis through individual solar powered water heaters and gas supplementation.

If you were to see an overhead shot of the neighborhood, you would see each home with a solar collector panel array mounted to the garage. The energy from those panels benefits every member of the neighborhood through district heating and hot water.

Natural Resources Canada has said that the system provided 100% of the required space heat for the 2015-2016 heating season. That is impressive, to say the least. The neighborhood system was originally intended to achieve a solar fraction of about 93% per year, but improvements to the system have helped Natural Resources Canada achieve the 100% milestone.

Sufficient Heating with Less Electricity

Drake Landing officials are obviously pleased with the results as well. For them, it is all about providing district heating at the lowest possible cost. According to project officials, solar thermal district heating uses 8 to 10 times less electricity than traditional heat pumps, which is important in a region that has year-round heating needs. Even in the midst of summer, district heat is still required in the Drake Landing community.

Officials are confident that the results they achieved during the previous heating season are repeatable. Though they aren’t saying whether they will reach 100% again this year, they are confident that they will start seeing repeat seasons in the future.

What It Means to Us

Here at Solar America Solutions, the importance of Drake Landing’s milestone is not lost on us. We have always believed that the potential of solar thermal for space heating and hot water is greater than anyone knows, which is what has prompted us to design and build our patented SunQuest 250™ solar thermal collector.

Every day, we are hearing more stories about the success of solar thermal for both residential and commercial applications. This motivates us to continue developing our own technology for the benefit of our customers. The further we can push the solar thermal envelope, the better we will be at meeting the needs of a world changing before our eyes.

We believe solar thermal is the future of renewable energy at multiple levels. Solar thermal already represents one of the most efficient and effective ways of generating energy for hot water and space heat on a property-by-property basis, and there is no reason to believe its potential for more widespread applications is limited. It’s a matter of simply scaling up the technology for size.

Our hats are off to Drake Landing and the impressive performance of their solar thermal project. After ten years of developing reliable renewable energy, they have proven that solar thermal both works and is commercially viable.

Sources:

1. Solar Thermal World – http://www.solarthermalworld.org/content/canada-solar-district-heat-meets-communitys-entire-space-heating-demand

Setting the Solar Thermal Example in Argentina

The solar thermal industry is always looking for new ways to introduce our technology to property owners who would benefit from less dependence on fossil fuels for space heating hot water. Perhaps a more efficient solar thermal installation at the White House might help. A similar installation in Argentina seems to have done a great deal to encourage property owners there to invest in solar thermal.

The Argentine government has been hard at work drafting and approving legislation to promote solar thermal among commercial and residential property owners. Along with financial incentives and mandated solar water heating systems for public buildings, the government has been searching for other means to encourage property owners to adopt solar thermal. Argentine president Mauricio Marci eventually made the decision to order a 260-liter system to be installed in his home in Olivos.

argentina

The company responsible for installing the system explained to the media that they experienced a 50-fold increase in solar thermal inquiries just as a result of the publicity alone. Sales have doubled as well. In October, the company sold 600 systems, which will exceed anything they have done in the past should the robust sales continue. Prior to the presidential installation, the company averaged about 3,000 systems annually.

Other solar thermal companies are doing very well in Argentina as well. As many as 15,000 new solar thermal systems have been installed in each of the last two years, according to some estimates. More importantly, the installations are saving consumers money.

Energy Prices out of Control

It’s easy to see why solar thermal is gaining popularity in Argentina when you look at the cost of fuel in that country. Largely subsidized by government to this point, energy prices are expected to increase as much as 500% in some cities as the government phases out subsidies. The result has been one of property owners looking for alternative sources of energy before their utility bills start going up.

Solar thermal is one of the best solutions for space heat and hot water. A well-designed and promptly installed system can generate more than 60% of the space heat and hot water a commercial building requires. Right now, Argentina is focusing on solar thermal for public buildings in an attempt to reduce energy consumption at the commercial level. But it looks like more widespread adoption is occurring organically.

We Need a Good Example

Solar thermal in Argentina has the benefit of exploding energy prices to help drive it. Here in the U.S., energy prices have dropped dramatically in recent years creating an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ problem for solar thermal in many cases. We need a good example, a strong example the public can look at to see how beneficial solar thermal can be.

Over the years, Solar America Solutions has installed space heat and hot water systems incorporating our patented SunQuest 250®™ solar thermal collectors in various types of commercial and public buildings. We know how efficient the technology is. We know how much money our clients save by adopting solar thermal in place of fossil fuels. We firmly believe that if there were a way to put solar thermal at the forefront of the energy discussion, more property owners would take a serious look at it.

Perhaps a more efficient solar thermal installation at the White House would do the trick. But since that’s not likely to happen, our industry needs to find other ways to get the word out. The more solar thermal is adopted as a preferred renewable energy source, the better off we will all be.

Sources:

1.Solar Thermal World – http://www.solarthermalworld.org/content/argentina-presidents-system-order-and-planned-energy-price-hikes-boost-solar-thermal

San Francisco Mandates Solar for New Builds

San Francisco has become the fourth California city to implement a mandate for the use of solar installations in all new builds. The cities of Lancaster, Sebastopol, and Santa Monica already have similar mandates in place. We say ‘similar’ because there’s one significant difference in San Francisco: builders can choose between solar thermal and PV. The other four cities mandate PV.

Beginning January 1, 2017, all new residential and commercial builds must include some sort of solar installation. Under the ‘Better Roof Requirements for Renewable Energy Facilities’ code, solar water heating systems must produce 100 kBtu per square foot of installation space, per year. This applies to both residential and commercial applications. There are also requirements in place should builders choose PV.

sanfrancisco

The Next Logical Step

San Francisco residents are not surprised by the city council’s decision to mandate solar installations. The city previously joined the ‘Go 100% Renewable Energy’ initiative in 2010, and they have set ambitious goals of reducing emissions to 80% of 1990 levels by 2050. This latest mandate is just the next logical step in their goal to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and the resulting emissions.

In preparation for the mandate, the city began working on standards back in 2014. For example, the city’s ‘Solar Ready Requirement’ has forced builders over the last two years to design roofs to accommodate solar installations in the future. Builders of both residential and non-residential structures have been doing just that. Now they expect rooftop installations, so enhancing new building designs to accommodate solar thermal collector units should not be a problem.

The only question that remains to be seen is who chooses what. Common sense seems to dictate that commercial building developers who decide to use only one method to meet mandated obligations will choose solar thermal for hot water and space heat production. Why? Because solar thermal has proven to be more efficient and cost-effective than PV. Furthermore, a solar thermal solution can be adapted to provide thermal energy for air conditioning as well, which would further enhance what solar thermal can offer a warm state like California.

Potential for Solar Thermal Installations

What we expect to happen in San Francisco over the next few years is by no means uncharted territory. Cities all across Europe have done exactly what the City by the Bay has done, with very good results to boot. Europe’s builders are wholeheartedly embracing solar thermal for commercial and residential buildings even as local communities are looking to adopt as many alternative energy sources as possible. In short, the potential for solar thermal now looks virtually limitless.

Here at home, we are seeing solar thermal being adopted on a more regular basis as well. At Solar America Solutions, we have seen demand for our patented SunQuest 250™ solar thermal collectors increase year after year. We have also had the pleasure of being involved in some revolutionary installations covering everything from government buildings to educational facilities to poultry farms.

Solar thermal offers the potential of generating cost-effective space heat, process heat, and hot water regardless of the size of a commercial building. Our system is especially attractive because of its extremely limited footprint requirement. It doesn’t take a lot of available roof space to install a system that can more than meet the demand for space heat and hot water.

The city of San Francisco has made it possible for solar thermal to gain a very strong following in that city. In fact, that is exactly what we expect to happen. Hopefully, other cities will follow San Francisco’s lead.

Sources:

1.Solar Thermal World – http://www.solarthermalworld.org/content/california-san-francisco-passes-first-mandate-solar-thermal-option

Two Countries, Two Subsidies – Different Results

Companies like ours are very much in favor of government subsidies to help solar thermal energy take its rightful place in the renewable energy space. It’s not that we believe subsidies ought to be permanent, but that they should be continued until solar thermal can stand on its own. There is ample evidence that proves government subsidies work when applied in the right way.

To illustrate this point, let’s look at two countries and their subsidy programs. Both countries achieved different results based on what they did with their subsidy programs. After reading the information, it should be clear that subsidies have a rightful place in the renewable energy space – at least for the time being.

europe

Solar Thermal in Germany

Attendees of a recent energy symposium in Germany were treated to the good news that the solar thermal industry in that country experienced a 3% growth in sales for the first quarter of the year, following a disappointing 2015 in which sales dropped by approximately 10%. Attendees also heard about how government subsidies have served to boost sales this year.

A report from Solar Thermal World says solar thermal subsidies in Germany have never been stronger. What is known as the German Market Rebate program offers subsidies for numerous renewable heat energy sources, including solar thermal, biomass boilers, and heat pumps. The heat pump category has benefited the most from the program, but solar thermal comes in second place. Biomass boilers have lost about 9%, likely as a result of a drop in fossil fuel prices.

Germany tends to see solar thermal growth whenever subsidies are made available. We hope to see local and national leaders keep things going for a stronger solar thermal market here in the US.

Solar Thermal in Portugal

Government officials in Portugal introduced an incentive scheme known as the Energy Efficiency Fund in May 2015. Their strategy was twofold: to encourage more solar thermal installations for new builds and to help restore existing solar thermal applications installed before 2005. The latter was the more important priority. Unfortunately, the program fell flat and, as a result, solar thermal sales in that country plummeted in 2015.

Experts say that the qualifications were too restrictive for organizations looking for the subsidies. The restrictions were so tight, in fact, that the program received only four applications in the whole of 2015. The money still sits there, but very few organizations qualify to receive it. In effect, the restrictions make the program virtually nonexistent. Without changes, there is little hope for subsidized solar thermal in Portugal.

Solar Thermal Will Stand on Its Own

Solar thermal technology is by no means a flash in the pan with no staying power. We have proven as much with our patented SunQuest 250® solar thermal collector. This collector delivers incredible performance at a very affordable price and with the need for a very small installation footprint. Since the inception of Solar America Solutions, the collector has helped thousands of customers save on their utility bills without sacrificing the availability of space heat and hot water.

Solar thermal technology will stand on its own if we can encourage enough businesses and property owners to adopt it. That is why subsidies are needed for the time being. We need to be able to bring prices down to a point where the industry is self-sufficient, but that’s not possible as long as adoption remains limited.

The proof is in the pudding, so to speak. Where subsidies remain strong, the solar thermal market continues to grow. Where subsidies are weak or entirely nonexistent, solar thermal barely registers.

Sources:

1.Solar Thermal World – http://www.solarthermalworld.org/content/germany-symposium-debates-renewable-heating-market-ups-and-downs
2. Solar Thermal World – http://www.solarthermalworld.org/content/portugal-incentive-scheme-fails-while-sales-take-another-dive

Bad News Brewing for Solar Thermal in the UK

Bad news is brewing for the solar industry in the UK. Rumors that the government will be cutting some of its funding to subsidize solar thermal appear to be true, as evidenced by comments made recently by Energy Secretary Amber Rudd. The Secretary has been saying for a while that residential and commercial heat based on renewable sources is a priority for policymakers, but exactly what kind of priority she is talking about is questionable.

Guidance published by the UK government indicates that support for the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) program will be drastically cut or eliminated by 2017. That would mean subsidies offered to property owners designed to encourage them to use solar thermal technologies for space heating and hot water will no longer be available.

british-subsidy

Proposals included in the guidance are a matter of both consternation and confusion. The consternation comes from the fact that cutting the RHI program will probably reduce confidence in the solar thermal sector to such a degree that private investment might be negatively impacted. If that were the case, it would be awfully difficult to continue development of new technologies in the future.

As for the confusion, it stems from one simple reality: solar thermal is the most established and proven platform for renewable space heat and hot water around the world. Total capacity right now stands at 350 GW, far greater than total capacity for PV. Adding to the confusion is the reality that the UK has led the charge for solar thermal from the onset. Seeing them cut support for RHI now does not add up.

Deciding How Long Subsidies Should Last

Proponents of the UK guidance say that it’s hard to determine how long government subsidies should actually last. But they insist the RHI program was never intended to be permanent. The program was initially instituted to help the country achieve rather ambitious renewable energy goals put in place years ago. Now that it is apparent they are nowhere near reaching those objectives lawmakers may determine they could spend the money on the program on more important things.

How the solar thermal sector in the UK will fare if RHI is indeed cut remains to be seen. We imagine there will be a period of adjustment as manufacturers, installers, and service providers get used to the lack of subsidized funding. But we also believe the industry will survive. Property owners genuinely looking for renewable energy projects will still consider solar thermal in light of the tremendous savings it offers. More than one will choose to install solar thermal when it comes time to replace an aging boiler.

Subsidies Only a Partial Solution

Let us assume the UK does cut the RHI program in 2017. Such a decision could influence other countries to follow suit, especially where solar thermal is enjoying widespread adoption. It might even have a ripple effect here in North America. Already we are seeing some states and local jurisdictions begin to second-guess their subsidy programs in light of the need to tighten budgets. The question is, can solar thermal stand on its own?

Here at Solar America Solutions, we believe it can. There are now enough existing applications using our patented SunQuest 250® solar thermal collectors around the country to provide proof that solar thermal is an excellent alternative for renewable space heat and hot water. Growth may be slower in the absence of subsidies, but it will not be stopped. From our perspective, solar thermal is a renewable technology that is here to stay. We expect it to be the market leader before too long.

Sources:

  • Renewable Energy Magazine – http://www.renewableenergymagazine.com/article/uk-solar-industry-condemns-government-proposal-to-20160304

Learning Lessons from India’s Solar Thermal Push

India’s ample sunshine and wide open spaces seem to make it an ideal candidate for solar thermal installations. The country enjoys near-perfect conditions that could take advantage of solar thermal for residential and commercial space heat and hot water, along with process heat for industry. Yet solar thermal has gotten very little attention in that country thus far. That’s about to change, if the Centre of Science and Environment (CSE) has anything to say about it.

The CSE recently released a report detailing current solar thermal capacity in India along with the potential of the technology if more businesses and property owners embraced it. The green energy body is now preparing to push solar thermal as aggressively as possible in order to increase adoption. We could learn some lessons from their efforts.

According to the report, “the installed capacity of CSP in India is a mere 200 MegaWatts (MW) while solar photovoltaics (PV) on the other hand have an installed capacity of almost 5,000 MW.” The report goes on to say that the three primary hindrances to solar thermal in India are a lack of awareness, a lack of expertise, and the cost of installation.

India

Lack of Awareness

Indian property owners are not at all concerned about the fact that they consume millions of tons of fossil fuels on things that could be just as easily powered through solar thermal. The CSE says this is due in large part to ignorance. Simply put, property owners do not know about the existence of solar thermal, let alone the benefits it offers. They say the first front in the fight to bring solar thermal to India is educating property owners about it.

Property owners need to know that solar thermal can deliver more than adequate space heat and hot water for both residential and commercial buildings. They need to know that solar thermal can be installed with a very manageable footprint on virtually any rooftop.

Lack of Expertise

The CSE says there is a measurable lack of expertise regarding solar thermal technology in India. They believe that in order to push the industry forward in their country, they need an influx of technical experts capable of developing the kinds of solutions property owners need. Until that expertise arrives, the CSE believes solar thermal will remain marginal as compared to other solar technologies.

Cost of Installation

The third and final hindrance to solar thermal is one that we are all aware of: the cost of installation. Even though solar thermal solutions pay for themselves in just a few years, the upfront costs of installation can be prohibitive to many property owners. North America and Europe have addressed this problem through government subsidies that encourage new installations. India will probably have to look at the subsidy paradigm as well.

Basic economic principles dictate that costs would come down in India as the adoption of solar thermal increases. Until that time, the entire industry may need to be anchored by substantial financial support from the government.

So what can we learn here in the U.S.? First, we also need to do a better job of educating property owners here about solar thermal. Most people think only of photovoltaic systems when they think solar; they have no idea that there are other ways to use energy from the sun. Or, if they are aware of solar thermal, they are not aware of new technology that makes it a very viable renewable energy option.

Second, we do need to keep our subsidy programs intact rather than reducing funding or cutting programs entirely. Incentives are important in promoting the widespread adoption of solar thermal. We cannot afford to lose them if we expect solar thermal to help reduce fossil fuel consumption.

Sources:

  • The Economic Times – http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2016-02-04/news/70343933_1_cse-power-generation-fuel-oil

New Storage Technology Could Revolutionize Solar Thermal Industry

Solar thermal energy production is one of the most promising renewable energy models we have to work with right now. Yet it does have its limitations, not the least of which is energy storage. Research now being undertaken at Oregon State University could be a definite game changer by creating a new storage solution that makes solar thermal exponentially more effective and cost-efficient. This new storage technology could revolutionize the solar thermal industry if researchers are able to find a way to get to market.

Current solar thermal technology does allow for storage of unused energy during the day. We use a system of storage tanks to capture and store unused solar heat that can then be utilized to continue providing hot water and space heat once the sun goes down. Yet modern storage systems are not ideal. The industry would like to have a solution that is considerably more efficient and powerful. That goal is at the core of the Oregon state University research.

SunQuest250

Concentrated Thermochemical Storage

Researchers are now working on an advanced thermochemical storage facility that can both store and reuse concentrated solar thermal heat through a complex chemical process. Their focus is on creating a storage device that would enhance our ability to use solar thermal to generate electricity in conventional power plants. But any storage device developed for this purpose could be scaled down for use in individual solar thermal installations in commercial buildings.

The principle behind thermochemical storage is rather simple. A storage unit is constructed using a variety of components and chemicals that very much resemble a conventional battery. When heat energy is introduced into the storage device, a chemical reaction takes place that causes that heat energy to be stored. Upon discharge, the heat is then transferred out of the storage device into whatever equipment is utilizing it.

The researchers at Oregon State University are taking this concept one step further by utilizing a group of chemicals capable of doing two amazing things. First, the chemicals can theoretically store heat energy for an unlimited amount of time with little or no loss. Second, the chemical process that occurs during discharge produces additional heat that can also be harnessed.

Solving the Storage Issue Opens Doors

Renewable energy development must always be undertaken with the understanding that none of our current sources of renewable energy is 100% reliable. The sun does not always shine, the wind does not always blow, and water does not always move. Therefore, storage capacity is necessary. A reliable storage model is the missing link that could make it possible for us to completely replace fossil fuels in the future.

That day is still a long way off in all likelihood. In the meantime, our focus is on developing the most efficient solar collector panels and storage devices possible. With each new development, we are one step closer to making solar thermal the default renewable energy option worldwide.

Here at home, Solar America Solutions focuses on solar thermal for heat and hot water in commercial buildings. Our systems are highly effective and efficient due to the evacuated tube design of our SunQuest 250 collector panel. A single 25-bulb collector is capable of producing up to 35,000 BTUs per hour in a package with a total rooftop footprint of as little as 21 ft.².

To date, we have installed our systems in prison cellblocks, college dorms, office buildings, industrial buildings, and even agricultural facilities. We would be happy to discuss the potential of solar thermal for your commercial property,. If you want to know more, contact us at 317-688-8581.

Sources:

  • Power Electronics – http://powerelectronics.com/solar/storage-advance-may-boost-solar-thermal-energy-potential

Solar Thermal Offers NC Man New Business Opportunity

North Carolina resident Randy White lost his maintenance mechanic job in 2009. When that happened, he had one of two choices: go find work elsewhere or make good on his dream to own and operate his own solar energy business. The decision was easy, given that White’s father was a chemist and an early pioneer of solar thermal technology. White enrolled in college and graduated three years later with a degree in atmospheric science. Today, he and his brother own a thriving solar thermal business in Asheville.

White’s business concentrates on solar thermal applications to produce hot water. The key to his success is a computerized system that allows his company’s solar collector unit to move with the sun. The tracking system was developed by another Asheville business involved in computer repair.

White and his brother settled on solar thermal because of the incredible potential of the technology. Solar thermal is different in that it does not convert sunlight to electricity. Rather, it converts energy from the sun into heat energy that can be used to provide hot water or space heat. Solar thermal is much more efficient in that it allows a system to do a lot more with less.

As one example, consider an industrial building that uses traditional energy sources to create hot water and provide heating during the winter. The owner of that building could significantly reduce their gas bill by installing a solar thermal system for both needs. A Solar America Solutions system installed in such a building could pay for itself, without subsidies, in 2 to 5 years. Throw in federal and state subsidies and the building owner has an even sweeter deal.

North-Carolina

Collectors Make the Difference

The Solar America Solutions business model is similar to that which White is doing in North Carolina, yet with one distinct difference: the collector unit. Our SunQuest 250 collector is an evacuated tube panel that is the most efficient in the industry. It is a 25-bulb collector providing 88 ft.² of absorption space while needing only an area measuring 3′ x 7′ for installation. Just one SunQuest 250 can produce over 35,000 BTUs per hour.

One of the other advantages of our solar thermal collector is the fact that it does not require direct sunlight or any kind of solar tracking system because the panel employs passive tracking made possible by the evacuated tube technology. In fact, it does not even require a clear day with blue skies. The SunQuest 250 relies on ultraviolet rays rather than direct sunshine. That means our panel is collecting energy even on days when the sky is gray and overcast.

Solar America Solutions concentrates on the commercial and industrial sectors because we understand the needs of that market and our panel’s output easily satisfies the needs of most commercial applications. Commercial buildings in this country are the largest users of energy, with much of that energy going toward space heat and hot water. If we can help reduce the commercial demand for energy through solar thermal installations, we will be saving our customers money and reducing our nation’s dependence on fossil fuels.

Since our company was established, we have developed solar thermal installations for agricultural applications, correctional facilities, college dormitories and a variety of industrial and commercial buildings. Each installation is designed to meet the unique needs of the client, both now and in the future. What’s more, our systems are modular and scalable. An installation in your facility can grow as your needs grow.

Solar thermal is the renewable energy solution of the future. Get in on the ground floor now by working with Solar America Solutions to develop a system for your building. Solar thermal saves money and reduces your need for expensive, traditional power sources.

Sources:

  • Citizen Times – http://www.citizen-times.com/story/money/business/2015/04/10/asheville-man-goes-back-school-starts-solar-company/25572229/

Molten Salt Energy Storage Shows Promise for Solar Thermal

At a new $2 billion Solana power plant in Arizona, no one worries when the sun goes down for the day. That’s because the power plant’s molten salt storage system is able to store enough energy throughout the day to power operations for up to six hours at night. The revolutionary molten salt system allowed the brand-new plant to pass its commercial operations test last autumn. Now the plant is ready to produce electricity full-time for the Arizona Public Service utility.

A similar plant in Nevada should be able to produce 110 MW once fully operational later this year. The developer of the Crescent Dunes project, SolarReserve, said back in February that the plant had entered its commissioning stage. The developer hopes to have it up and running at peak output before the year is out.

Solar thermal energy has long been believed to be one of the most efficient renewable energy sources when coupled with the right technology. However, storage capacity has been an issue in the past. The use of molten salt storage now seems poised to change that.

Molten salt is standard salt that has been liquefied due to high temperature. In its liquid state it has the capability of storing a tremendous amount of heat with very little loss; heat that can be used to keep production going during the nighttime hours, thus making it the perfect solution for all sorts of renewable energy projects. Molten salt technology is even promising enough to be considered for use as backup power storage for data centers and other high-tech facilities.

 

solar-thermal

Storage Key to Solar Thermal

If solar thermal is ever to become the primary means of renewable energy, storage is the key. The ability to generate enough power during the day to meet demand, as well as providing storage capacity for overnight hours, will completely change how we think about, and apply, solar energy. And the solar energy community is getting very close to having the system we have been dreaming of.

The main disadvantage of molten salt storage is the cost-to-benefit ratio. For a full-scale power plant requiring maximum energy output 24 hours a day, molten salt is well worth the investment. However, for smaller projects involving space heating and hot water for a single building, it is still too expensive to make it viable. Reducing the cost of molten salt storage is one of the things being worked on right now.

Solar America’s SunQuest 250

Solar America Solutions offers a solar thermal system for heat and hot water generation using the latest technology for both collection and storage. The SunQuest 250 solar collector panel is designed around a highly efficient evacuated tube model that collects energy from the sun’s ultraviolet rays. As such, the system works just fine even on cloudy and overcast days. When paired with highly efficient storage tanks, the system is capable of providing more than enough energy for heat and hot water in a commercial or institutional setting.

Perhaps molten salt storage will eventually reach a stage where it is more scalable and cost effective for smaller projects requiring minimal storage. If so, some of the projects Solar America has already worked on could perform even better. That is what we are hoping for. We believe molten salt storage could be a very important part of our future, and the future of solar thermal energy across America.