About ten years ago, Southern California’s Santa Monica High School tested the waters of solar thermal technology by installing a solar thermal heater to heat Drake Pool. Now the high school’s leaders are joining with those from other district schools to figure out how to use a substantial amount of bond money to bring districtwide solar energy solutions to fruition. We hope they include solar thermal hot water and space heat in their plans.
Solar thermal technology and education are a perfect fit. We should know, given our successful installation of 10 SunQuest 250 solar panels and peripheral equipment at a 165-bed dormitory at the University of Indianapolis. The reason solar thermal and education work so well together is that they both benefit tremendously.
Educational facilities benefit in that they save money on electricity used to heat water and provide space heating. The school can utilize that money for more important things. Furthermore, a properly designed and installed system from Solar America Solutions can completely pay for itself in less than a few years.
The solar thermal industry benefits in that education is at the forefront of moving our country forward. Every time a school or university utilizes solar thermal, it is an opportunity to demonstrate to the entire commercial and industrial sectors how beneficial the technology is. A school acts as proof that solar thermal is practical, efficient and profitable.
Moving Forward in California
Getting back to Santa Monica, the local school district will be receiving $180 million as part of a $385 million measure approved by voters several years ago. A number of schools within the district have already been fitted with solar panels, resulting in savings of more than $50,000 during the 2013-2014 school year. Community leaders see no reason they should not move forward with solar at the rest of the district’s facilities.
Solar America Solutions believe that the best strategy in Santa Monica would be to concentrate funding on solar thermal projects that provide space heat and hot water. While Southern California does get an ample amount of sunshine, one of the strengths of solar thermal over other solar solutions is the fact that bright, sunny skies are not required.
Our SunQuest 250 solar collector panel makes use of ultraviolet rays rather than direct sunlight. As you probably already know, ultraviolet rays easily pierce cloud cover on overcast days. That is why it’s still possible to get a sunburn even when skies are not bright blue. Utilizing ultraviolet rays means that our collector panel generates heat energy nearly as efficiently on cloudy days as it does on sunny days.
The other advantage of solar thermal is efficiency. Where photovoltaic electrical conversion is concerned, there is a lot of wasted energy that never makes it to practical use. However, the evacuated tubes utilized by solar thermal eliminate nearly all waste. The energy collected by the tubes is transferred to a thermal liquid to be used for space heat and hot water purposes.
Schools are the perfect platform for solar thermal space heat and hot water because of their needs being concentrated during the daylight hours. In other words, a solar thermal system is working at peak performance at the same time students need hot water and heat. As we said earlier, educational facilities and solar thermal were made for each other.
We hope to see the Santa Monica school district utilize some of their improvement funds to install solar thermal technologies at community schools. It would save a tremendous amount of money while also reducing their reliance on fossil fuel.
- Santa Monica Daily Press – http://smdp.com/solar-power-expansion-talks-heat-samohi/146388