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Posts tagged ‘solar thermal solutions’

Andalusia, Spain Brings Back Renewable Energy Support

Solar America Solutions is just one of many companies around the U.S. actively supporting government incentives for renewable energy initiatives. Proof of the critical nature of incentives to help propel the proliferation of sustainable energy and carbon emission reduction can be found in examples all over the world, including southern Spain.

The Andalusia region of southern Spain has long been that country’s hottest market for renewable energy – including solar thermal. In the few years leading up to and including 2015, more than 1.1 million square meters of solar collector area were installed in Andalusia. That accounts for just under one-third of Span’s total solar energy footprint.

andalusia

Things changed when the Andalusian government started cutting back on incentives in mid-2015. The cuts led to a 12% drop in installations the following year. According to sources, Spain saw 50,000 fewer square meters of installation in 2016 as compared to the year before. The good news is that the Andalusian government agreed to restore incentives earlier this year.

The incentives apply to a full range of renewable energy options, solar thermal included. Solar thermal installations are eligible for incentives of up to 85% of the total cost of installation. Even on the low end, a 30% incentive could be enough to push the buyer over the edge.

Prioritizing Our Goals

When you look at the situation in Andalusia, it quickly becomes apparent that incentive programs are critical to encouraging people to invest in renewable energy. It also becomes apparent that a loss of incentives is enough to cause interest in renewable technologies to fall drastically. So it appears to be a matter of prioritizing our goals.

Solar America Solutions provide solar thermal systems for space heat and hot water in commercial buildings. In a perfect world, our customers would have the money up front to invest in new solar thermal solutions. But quite often they don’t. Moreover, obtaining financing to install a solar thermal system is not necessarily as easy as it sounds. Without incentive programs in place, it’s often just easier to stick with what is already there.

If our national priorities include reducing dependence on fossil fuels and reducing carbon emissions, are we willing to put our dollars behind it? That is the real question. Federal and state agencies have long provided incentives to encourage certain kinds of behavior among businesses and consumers. Applying incentives to renewable energy projects is in line with such a strategy. Is solar thermal important enough to support through robust incentive programs? We believe it is.

A Self-Paying Solution

The Solar America Solutions system is built around our patented SunQuest 250™ solar thermal collector panel. Just one of our panels is capable of producing up to 35,000 BTUs per hour with output temperatures of nearly 500° F. The savings realized through a solar thermal system are enough that the average business can completely recoup its investment within 3 to 5 years, with government incentives included. Take those incentives away and the payback period is extended.

Keeping incentives in place makes one of our solar thermal solutions a self-paying solution after just a few years, typically less than five and often as little as three. And once a system is fully paid for, a building owner enjoys nothing but ongoing savings for the life of the system. That means less money spent on grid energy, fewer fossil fuels being burned for hot water and space heat, and less stress on the environment.

Andalusia did the right thing by reinstating its incentive program. There are lessons to be learned from them, both here and abroad.

Sources:

Solar Thermal World – http://www.solarthermalworld.org/content/spain-andalusia-supports-38-renewable-energy-and-energy-efficiency-measures

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

Solar Thermal Investment Heading to China

A recent announcement by the Asian Development Bank further demonstrates the usefulness of solar thermal technology as an alternative to traditional energy sources. The bank announced they would be loaning the People’s Republic of China up to $150 million to build a solar thermal power plant in northwestern China.

Solar thermal technology takes energy from the sun’s rays and uses it to heat water or another thermal liquid. That water can then be used for any number of purposes, including space heat, hot water, and electrical generation. The planned project in China will be the largest of its kind, combining 50 MW of power production with a solar thermal storage system that will allow the plant to continue generating power at night.

Renewable Energy of the Future

It is exciting to see the developments in Asia, especially in light of the large-scale nature of the planned project. If solar thermal can be a profitable venture for massive concentrated power production, it is even more profitable for smaller-scale operations like those Solar America Solutions is involved with.

Solar America Solutions designs solar thermal solutions that provide both space heat and hot water for commercial applications. Our projects have proved beneficial for a number of applications, ranging from prison cellblocks to  college dormitories. Our customers enjoy significant savings with the installation of our highly efficient and state-of-the-art panels and the associated peripheral equipment.

 

SunQuest250

 

The main advantages of our solar thermal solutions are as follows:

  • Small Footprint – Our solar thermal collection panels are so powerful and efficient that you need fewer of them to get the results you are looking for. Just one panel can generate up to 30,000 BTUs per hour, yet requires a rooftop footprint measuring as little as 3′ x 7′.
  • Ultraviolet Energy – Our SunQuest 250 solar thermal panels do not need direct sunlight because they rely on the sun’s ultraviolet rays instead. That means our panels continue to pump out the BTUs even on cloudy and overcast days and even on the very coldest days. The same cannot be said for other types of solar collector panels.
  • Thermal Efficiency – We have designed our collection tubes to be as efficient as possible in order to maximize production while minimizing heat loss. Our evacuated tubes act like an insulated thermos to prevent nearly all heat loss during the thermal energy collection and transfer process.
  • Affordability – Solar thermal energy used for space heat and hot water saves our customers an average of 30% to 40% in annual energy costs. The savings, combined with federal and state tax credits, means most of our systems pay for themselves within 3 to 5 years.

Putting Solar Thermal to Work for You

Although we are confident just about every commercial property owner could somehow benefit from the use of solar thermal energy, we understand there will be some exceptions. Therefore, the first step in determining whether one of our systems is right for you or not is to contact us so we can help you evaluate your situation.

If we can help you save money on your annual energy bills by providing space heat and hot water, we will put together a customized system to achieve maximum savings. Bear in mind that our solar collector panels are both SRCC certified and ARRA “made in America” compliant.

Solar America Solutions might not be building large-scale power plants in China, but we do offer state-of-the-art solar thermal solutions that are helping our customers save money and reduce their carbon footprint. There is a strong possibility one of our systems can work for you too. Our current applications include the commercial, agricultural, government, hospitality, manufacturing, and education sectors.