We are always looking for new ideas for implementing solar thermal technology capable of producing adequate space heat and hot water. So we were intrigued to learn that three airports in Russia will be fitted with solar thermal systems in the very near future. The Russian project is being headed up by Basel Aero, a company that operates multiple airports throughout the country.
Solar Thermal World reports that Basel Aero installed a similar system at the Sochi airport just prior to the 2014 Winter Olympics. Apparently, the installation was successful enough that the company now plans additional installations at three airports near the Black Sea.
The Sochi airport was furnished with 132 solar collector panels provided by a German manufacturer. The panels created an estimated 304 m² of additional collector space that combined with existing collectors to create a system that can provide as much as 85% of the airport’s hot water during the summer and 25% in the winter.
Thus far, Basel Aero has not said how big the solar projects for the other three airports will be. But we know from personal experience that the right kind of design and implementation can have a very significant impact on the amount of energy used to generate hot water and space heat. If they do the right things, those airports will notice a big difference right away.
Plenty of Commercial Applications
We are always excited to hear about projects like the Russian airport project. Being experts in the field of solar thermal collection, we know what kind of potential this technology holds, both now and for the future. We also know that there are plenty of commercial applications that would benefit from highly efficient solar thermal energy production.
Here in the U.S., solar thermal installations for commercial applications tend to focus on the following areas:
- Space Heat – Solar thermal collector units convert sun energy into heat which can then be transferred through an interior forced air or hot water heating system to keep buildings warm. A properly designed system is capable of supplying all the space heat a commercial building would need. The most efficient space heating system is radiant floor heat that circulates water heated by solar through PEX tubes in the concrete floor slab.
- Domestic Hot Water – Solar thermal technology can also produce a significant amount of hot water very quickly and efficiently. That water can be used for lavatory purposes, kitchen purposes, or to power industrial processes. Thermal transfer fluid is circulated from the solar panels through heat exchangers that in turn transfer the heat to a boiler or hot water heater, reducing the amount of fuel needed to achieve target temperatures.
- Industrial Process Heat – One of the more exciting areas that seem to be growing right now is solar thermal process heat. By using energy from the sun, we can generate heat that that eliminates or significantly reduces fossil fuel generated heat used in industrial processes.
There really are few limits to what we can accomplish with solar thermal for space heating and hot water. And as the technology improves, new ways of using it will be developed. Already we are seeing exciting advances in storage capacity that will eventually make it more practical to utilize solar thermal generated energy around the clock.
At Solar America Solutions, we are especially proud of our patented SunQuest 250® solar thermal collector, now in its 4th generation. The SunQuest 250® is arguably the most efficient solar thermal collector panel on the market capable of output temperatures in excess of 400°F and generation of up to 35,000 BTUs per hour. It also has a limited footprint of just 3′ x 7′, making it possible to get an awful lot out of a relatively small rooftop installation.
We hope the Russian project goes as well as engineers anticipate. If it does, they may motivate airports here in the U.S. to look more seriously at solar thermal. We have plenty of collector panels to accommodate any new projects.
1. Solar Thermal World – http://www.solarthermalworld.org/content/russia-basel-aero-plans-solar-installations-three-airports-near-black-sea