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Posts tagged ‘solar collectors’

French Solar Industry Regrouping around Commercial Arena

A one-day gathering of representatives from the French solar energy sector convened in October (2015) offered contrasting views of the industry, and its future, in that country. But reports out of the conference clearly indicated that manufacturers, designers, and installers are far from being ready to concede. They believe solar energy – and solar thermal in particular – has a strong future in France if the industry regroups to concentrate its efforts in the commercial arena.

Like many other countries in Europe, the French residential market for solar thermal has been in sharp decline for the last 3 to 5 years. Where homeowners and residential developers were very favorable to solar thermal adoption just five years ago, things are remarkably different today. But the problem being faced in France is not unique. Other European countries are experiencing the same thing. What they are all learning is that the declining residential market has nothing to do with the technology itself. Solar thermal is still as effective as it has ever been. The problem is that the residential market is so limited.

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Industry representatives in France are coming around to that reality in greater numbers. In response, they are refocusing their efforts elsewhere. The two most promising arenas for the future are commercial and industrial buildings as well as multi-unit residential buildings – which are essentially seen as commercial projects anyway.

Larger Scale Better for Solar Thermal

Solar America Solutions has never focused our efforts on individual, residential applications of solar thermal. Again, it is not because the technology is ineffective. Our resistance to the residential market is based entirely on the extended ROI of that market. Larger scale deployment of solar thermal for commercial applications is a much better proposition because the sky is, essentially, the limit with ROI of less than five years in nearly every project.

For example, consider the fact that the SunQuest 250 solar collector panel with an absorption area of 88 ft2 requires just 21 ft² of open roof space for deployment. Just a single panel is capable of producing up to 35,000 BTUs per hour across a 10 hour solar day. That kind of energy production makes it possible for us to deploy a rather modest number of solar collectors to provide all the energy required for space heating and hot water in a typical commercial building.

The kind of production we are able to get from our systems would certainly be applicable to individual, residential homes. But homeowners still struggling in the midst of a recession that supposedly ended years ago do not have the money to invest in solar thermal. Residential property developers are also not interested in the technology because it simply adds to the cost of building at a time when housing starts still lag behind pre-recession peaks.

With all that said, the commercial sector is relatively strong by comparison. The same is now being observed in France and throughout the European Union. Industry representatives are coming to the conclusion realization that the success of solar thermal in France hinges now on the commercial market. Likewise, Solar America Solutions is entirely focused on commercial applications for industrial buildings, office buildings, government properties, healthcare institutions, manufacturing processes, and educational institutions.

Solar Thermal for Your Building

It is important for property owners to know that they do not have to have millions of square feet of interior or exterior space to make effective use of solar thermal. A modestly sized office building could benefit from the technology just as easily as a larger industrial facility. Solar thermal for your building is a very real possibility. Solar America Solutions would be more than happy to furnish you with the necessary information if you would like to know more about solar thermal.

Sources:

  • Solar Thermal World – http://solarthermalworld.org/content/france-industry-does-not-yet-surrender

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.