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Posts tagged ‘Solar Thermal’

Nicaragua Says Yes to Solar Thermal Air Conditioning

When you think solar thermal, you typically think about space heating and hot water. So what would you say if we told you about a project in Nicaragua in which solar thermal will be used for air conditioning? Indeed, Nicaragua’s largest hospital complex just finalized an agreement this past September that will result in the installation of a monstrous 14,000+ square foot system to provide hot water and subsidize air conditioning.

The hospital is a 400-bed complex that broke ground in 2015. Some two years after the fact, hospital operators will be able to flip the switch on the new solar thermal system and immediately start saving a ton of money. They will spend upwards of $4 million on the system; the total building project is estimated to eventually cost $125 million.

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Liquefied Gas Savings

Designers have created a system that will use energy from the solar thermal installation to provide nearly 100% of the hospital’s hot water and up to 40% of the air-conditioning. The hot water would normally be supplied by liquefied gas, which can be very expensive in Nicaragua, leading engineers to focus mainly on the hot water solution. As for the air-conditioning, solar thermal will supplement an existing electrical system.

They expect excess energy not consumed by hot water needs to be redirected in a way that reduces the load on the electric compression chillers that will handle the bulk of the air-conditioning. At peak efficiency, engineers expect solar thermal can contribute to between 30% and 40% of the energy needed.

To make solar thermal usable for air-conditioning, heat energy has to be used to generate the electricity compressors and chillers need to operate. One way to do that is through steam. However, officials in Nicaragua say that steam is the one thing not being replaced by solar thermal. Exactly how engineers intend to utilize the solar thermal installation is not known yet, but they will likely direct excess heat energy into an adsorption chiller system, much like a propane refrigerator uses.

The Potential Is Huge

At Solar America Solutions, we are always excited to hear about projects like this one. It shows us that the potential for solar thermal is enormous if engineers just put their minds to coming up with new ways to use it. A few years back, we published a blog post about a group of enterprising college students who developed an ingenious way to use solar thermal for air-conditioning without generating electricity. These are the kinds of ideas that are driving the technology forward.

Meanwhile, solar thermal is being used around the world to provide heat, hot water – and, yes even air-conditioning – in the largest of commercial buildings. Property owners are quickly waking up to the fact that solar thermal is incredibly efficient and cost-effective. Furthermore, a system utilizing evacuated tube collector panels is usable for nearly any kind of installation thanks to its high heat output with a remarkably small footprint.

Solar America Solutions’ patented SunQuest 250®™ solar thermal collectors are the most efficient collectors in the industry. With just a very small footprint required on a rooftop or land area, one of our solar thermal solutions can generate as much as 65% of the energy needed for your building’s hot water and space heat.Over the years, we have installed our systems in prison cell blocks, university dorms, and even a Midwest poultry operation.

Hospital officials in Nicaragua are impressed enough with the benefits of solar thermal that they’re willing to spend $4 million on it. They are doing it because they know it will work. So what’s stopping you?

Sources:

1.Solar Thermal World – http://www.solarthermalworld.org/content/nicaragua-soft-loan-fund-eur-4-million-project

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.

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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

UK Rail Station Experimenting with Solar Thermal

At the Birmingham International railway station in the heart of England, millions of passengers every year make their way through a vast concourse on their way to and from their trains. That concourse includes restaurants, cafés, shops, public seating areas, and restrooms. It is now getting an energy upgrade thanks to a pilot program designed to test the viability of solar thermal for providing the hot water the rail station needs to operate every day.

The Birmingham pilot is a little bit different in that initial plans don’t call for the solar thermal system to be the exclusive provider of hot water to the station and its tenants. Instead, the solar thermal system will preheat water coming in from the city’s main supply before sending it on to the rail station’s dual gas-fired boilers that will finish the job.

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That said, a successful test of the system may lead engineers to switch exclusively to solar thermal and use the gas fired boilers only as a supplement when necessary. But that decision is still some time in the future. For now, they want to see how well solar thermal works for the purposes they have intended.

Using Evacuated Tube Solar Collector Panels

Like all other highly efficient solar thermal systems, the star of the show in Birmingham are the ten evacuated tube solar collectors mounted on the rail station’s roof. These collectors absorb solar energy from ultraviolet rays, then transfer that energy to a thermal liquid. The benefit of this system is efficiency. An evacuated tube loses very little energy in the transfer process, so almost all the energy absorbed is sent into the system.

The heated thermal liquid is forwarded to a heat exchanger where heat energy is extracted before returning to the collector panel. Extracted heat can either be stored or used immediately to heat water. In principle, the system is rather simple.

Engineers in Birmingham have decided to use their system to preheat a mains water supply that enters the property at roughly 10°F. Water temperature should be as high as 95° before leaving the solar thermal system on the way to the gas-fired boilers. They will increase the input temperature of the water to 140°. But here’s the thing: the solar thermal system should be able to push the main water to 140° or higher during the warm summer months all by itself, eliminating the gas-fired boilers.

Throughout the pilot program, a heat meter will keep track of the system and analyze its benefits and financial savings based on the UK’s Renewable Heat Incentive program. If the system proves successful – and there’s no reason to believe it will not – we can easily see similar systems installed at rail stations around the country.

Solar Thermal Is Where It’s At

For years, our focus for solar energy has been on systems that convert sunlight directly into electricity. While these systems have proven their worth in some areas, they have not proven to be as efficient and cost-effective as solar thermal for space heat and hot water. In short, solar thermal is where it’s at.

The Birmingham International rail station is on the verge of learning how beneficial solar thermal can actually be. But they are by no means the first. Here at Solar America Solutions, we have already been part of numerous installations at all kinds of commercial and government buildings. Throughout the U.S., countless property owners have come to realize that the best way to provide space heat and hot water using renewable energy is to go solar thermal.

Sources:

  • Modern Building Services – http://www.modbs.co.uk/news/fullstory.php/aid/16265/Railway_station_trials_solar-thermal_for_DHW_.html

Indian Project Shows Promise for Solar Thermal Process Heat

A rather extensive project in India designed to measure the cost effectiveness of solar thermal technology for process heat has shown good promise through more than a dozen case studies. The project, known as SoPro India, is a partnership between the Indian Ministry of New and Renewable Energy and the German Agency for International Cooperation.

SoPro India started with the installation of solar thermal systems at 27 locations around the country. Among them, 15 locations were chosen as case studies for measuring the effectiveness of the solutions in providing cost-effective process heat. The 15 facilities cover different sectors from food processing to textiles to manufacturing.

india

According to Solar Thermal World magazine, the case studies demonstrated efficiency of 20% that would lead to a return on investment (ROI) of between two and three years. The ROI can be shorter or longer, based on future energy prices for fossil fuels. Nonetheless, an ROI of three years is pretty standard for solar thermal.

Solar Thermal for Process Heat

The installations we concentrate on at Solar America Solutions tend to be geared toward providing space heat and hot water for commercial buildings. But we have been involved in some process heat installations as well. They are very similar in terms of both theory and practice.

In a process heat installation, our SunQuest 250®™ solar collector panel collects solar energy using evacuated tube technology. That energy is transferred to a thermal liquid that runs through the system and into a heat exchanger where it can be extracted.Harvested energy can then be stored or used immediately for process heat.

The only difference in a space heat or hot water scenario is that the harvested energy is used for different purposes. The process of creating that energy is the same. This is what they are doing in India as well. For example, two of the case studies in the SoPro India project are as follows:

  • Himachal Dairy – The dairy uses a system consisting of a heat exchanger and several collector circuits set up in parallel. A 20% efficiency rating was achieved with very little modification from the original design. However, engineers believe they can boost efficiency as high as 40% by optimizing the flow of thermal liquid on both sides of the heat exchanger.
  • Synthokem Labs – The installation at this facility provides both process heat and hot water. Separate collector fields are used for both, though engineers are thinking of increasing efficiency by combining them into a single circuit.

Solar Thermal World reports that investors are happy with the current 20% efficiency and ROI. As such, there are no immediate plans to modify the systems to achieve a higher efficiency. But 40% is certainly not out of the question. Perhaps the success that SoPro India has demonstrated thus far will motivate engineers to modify current systems and design future installations with a higher efficiency rating.

Solar Thermal for Your Building

Back here at home, Solar America Solutions continues to lead the way in developing effective solar thermal solutions for commercial buildings and industrial enterprises. Our industry-leading SunQuest 250®™ solar collector panel has set performance standards the rest of the industry is working to catch up to. Our panel is capable of output temperatures in excess of 400°F and up to 35,000 BTUs per hour.

A Solar America Solutions system is perfect for commercial buildings because it has an extremely small footprint compared to its high output potential. For more information about how solar thermal can save your commercial building or enterprise money, feel free to contact us.

Sources:

1. Solar Thermal World – http://www.solarthermalworld.org/content/india-process-heat-system-monitoring-shows-fair-performance-room-improvement

German Company Takes Solar Thermal Shopping Online

It would not be unusual to assume that solar thermal and online technologies, being relatively new in the grand scheme of things, easily coexist in the same marketplace. This is not necessarily true. Take a German company that recently began allowing customers to shop for solar thermal installations online, as an example. Their business plan seems to be drawing some consternation from skeptical installers who think the online model might hinder business.

Vaillant is a German company specializing in the manufacture of boilers and heating equipment. Their new online sales platform makes it possible for customers to shop and compare without ever having to visit a showroom or call to speak with a representative. But there are a couple of catches.

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First, critics of the system say it is not easy to understand. Customers have to go through a two-stage process that includes a rather lengthy questionnaire designed to determine what kind of heating system they are looking for. Customers can also choose a particular price range.

The second catch is that the prices shown on the platform are only rough estimates based on current retail prices in the customer’s given market. Before any purchase is made, an installation specialist has to visit the premises to create an accurate estimate. Vaillant will be working with licensed installers to handle estimates and installations in local areas under their brand.

A Model That Could Work

Despite concerns that the online model will stifle competitiveness among local installers, it is a model that could work well once all of the details are ironed out. We can see it being especially attractive to millennials and younger baby boomers who have already shown an affinity for shopping online. Comparing without leaving home is pretty attractive.

Imagine a platform whereby the solar thermal customer could compare different equipment choices along with installers and designers. Competition tends to result in better pricing and service, potentially opening the door to more opportunities for consumers. On the other hand, competition can be stifled if the online platform provider restricts access to certain equipment manufacturers, dealers and installers.

It will be interesting to see what happens with the German program over the next 12 to 18 months. If Vaillant can make it work well, keeping both consumers and installers happy, there is no reason the same idea would not work elsewhere. Perhaps we are on the verge of seeing solar thermal become as widely adopted online as any other product in the digital marketplace.

Solar Thermal Is Cost-Effective and Efficient

We can see a lot of potential in offering solar thermal installations via an online shopping platform if, for no other reason, the fact that the internet makes it a lot easier to quantify the efficiency of solar thermal in ways consumers can understand. Through graphics, comparison charts, etc., companies could offer overviews of their equipment side-by-side with their competitors. Customers could easily see how different systems stack up against one another.

Done right, it could be a viable platform for our SunQuest 250®™ solar thermal collector panel. But we are getting ahead of ourselves. Comparative shopping platforms are not as big here in the U.S. as they are in Europe, so it’s better that we wait to see how the German platform works out.

In the meantime, we invite you to contact Solar America Solutions for more information about solar thermal technology for your commercial building. Our systems can provide more than adequate space heat, hot water, and process heat at an affordable cost that will save you money for years to come. We invite you to check out our website’s Energy Savings Calculators on our home page and get a preliminary estimate of what our system can save you on an annual basis (www.solaramericasolutions.com).

Sources:

1.Solar Thermal World – http://www.solarthermalworld.org/content/germany-vaillant-establishes-end-customer-online-platform

Australian Scientists Reach Solar Thermal Record

Scientists at the Australian National University have set a new record for solar thermal efficiency and in so doing have set the bar for future solar thermal development. According to various news outlets, the researchers were able to achieve 97% efficiency in converting solar energy into steam power. Earlier this year, the same researchers achieved a 34.5% efficiency in converting solar energy directly into electricity.

The Australian National University is well known for its excellent work in the field of solar energy, so few were surprised by their most recent accomplishment. That’s not to say there was no skepticism during the development of the project. In fact, some of the researchers were skeptical that the solar collector panel used to set the record would actually meet the projections engineers made when designing. But all turned out well in the end.

In this particular setup, the scientists used a giant, dish-shaped reflector to concentrate the sun’s energy on a high-powered collector unit, which heated up water and created steam to power an electric generator. Researchers attribute their high efficiency to the design of the dish reflector.

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Why This Is Important

What the researchers in Australia have done is essentially the same thing we do at Solar America Solutions – at least in principle. The two main differences are the fact that they are dealing with large scale power generation meant to replace coal-fired and natural gas plants while we focus on rooftop installations for hot water, industrial process water, and space heat, and the fact that they are using a giant dish where our patented SunQuest 250®™ solar thermal collectors have an exceptionally small footprint.

What we share is the vision to use powerful solar energy to generate thermal energy that can be used for any number of purposes. This is why the Australian project is so important. It proves that solar thermal is incredibly efficient when harnessed in the right way and using the right equipment and strategies. Efficiency is indeed its greatest asset.

When you convert solar energy directly into electricity, there are some inherent limitations in both conversion and application. So while the 34.5% efficiency achievement earlier this year (2016) is impressive, it pales in significance when compared to the 96% efficiency we have achieved with solar thermal. When you are converting solar energy into commercial levels of thermal energy, the possibilities are nearly endless.

Hot Water, and Space and Process Heat

Australian researchers are looking at high-capacity power generation using solar thermal. Here at Solar America Solutions, we focus on commercial applications that provide hot water, space heat, and heated industrial process water. We are helping our customers save money by reducing the amount of outside energy they have to purchase to meet their needs. And we’re doing it with our patented SunQuest 250®™ solar thermal collector that is among the most efficient evacuated tube collectors on the market.

Where hot water and space heat are the focus, Solar America Solutions installations are perfect for hotels, office buildings, dormitories, government buildings, hospitals, educational institutions, and more. As for process heat, there are almost no limits. Wherever steam or hot water is used to drive industrial equipment or processes, solar thermal can be deployed. One of our earliest installations was at a poultry farm that required process heat and hot water for egg washing.

The future of solar thermal looks very bright thanks to the ongoing efforts of researchers and product developers. We look forward to seeing what the Australian researchers come up with next, even as we continue to develop our solar thermal technology here in America. If 97% efficiency is possible, how much closer can we get to 100%?

Sources:

New Atlas – http://newatlas.com/solar-thermal-record-anu/45027/

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.

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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

Study Offers Suggestions to Increase Solar Thermal Adoption

A wide-reaching study conducted by a consortium of partners from numerous countries has looked at the market value of high-efficiency water heaters only to reach some interesting conclusions on a country-by-country basis. Among the study’s findings are a number of specific suggestions that could result in greater adoption of solar thermal technology for both residential and commercial applications.

The study, undertaken by U.S.-based Clasp, the UK’s Waide Strategic Efficiency, and a number of other partners looked at residential water heating along with government policies and market forces in China, India, and the U.S. Even though Solar America Solutions concentrates primarily on the commercial sector, we found the study intriguing, nonetheless. Its conclusions could very well have an impact on how solar thermal is used for water heating in the future.
SunQuest250

Different Needs by Country

The study revealed that the use of energy to heat water varies tremendously in the three countries studied. For example, 18.5% of domestic energy consumption in the U.S. goes directly to heating water. In China, the number is 7.1% while just 5.4% of India’s energy consumption is devoted to water heating. The numbers are even more surprising when you compare the technologies used to heat water:

  • Solar – China: 35.7%, India: 13.8%, U.S.: 0.6%
  • Heat Pump – China: 1.2%, India: 0.0%, U.S.: 1.5%
  • Total Units in Use – China: 48 million, India: 3.9 million, U.S.: 11 million

What the numbers do not necessarily reveal is the fact that the U.S. is by far the largest consumer of hot water among the three countries. Even with a significantly lower volume of units as compared to China, Americans use a lot more hot water for everything from bathing to showering to washing the laundry. That begs a question: what kind of changes can be made to the current environment to improve the adoption of solar thermal as a means of generating hot water in the US?

Two Suggestions Offered

Two very important suggestions were offered as a result of the referenced study. First and foremost, researchers suggest a more aggressive attempt to establish and maintain government subsidy programs until the adoption of solar thermal is more widespread. They cited a specific plan in India as one example of an incentive that could be adopted by the US government to promote solar thermal installations.

Solar thermal subsidies are certainly applicable here in the United States as well. But the researchers’ second suggestion may help even more, according to the study. That suggestion is one of redesigning the efficiency labels currently placed on water heaters to give consumers more information about energy consumption. How would this help? By making it possible for consumers to compare different technologies before making a decision on a water heater purchase.

The study was quick to point out that no such labels exist anywhere in the world today. They showed examples of labels currently used in China, India and the U.S., noting that the information provided is fairly limited. Researchers believe that when consumers are presented with actual energy consumption data, they are more likely to choose the option that will cost less in the long run.

Here at Solar America Solutions, we do know that water heating is a big consumer of energy in both residential and commercial buildings. This is one of the reasons we have concentrated on efficient hot water solutions for the applications we have deployed to date. We believe providing a more efficient and cost-effective hot water solution is one of the easiest and most effective ways we can promote energy savings and encourage renewable sources moving forward.

Sources:

1.Solar Thermal World — http://www.solarthermalworld.org/content/china-india-and-usa-study-recommends-policies-energy-efficient-water-heaters

UK Solar Milestone Is Proof of Concept

Solar America Solutions has been an industry leader in solar thermal technology for years. Since our business was founded, we have been on the cutting edge of promoting solar thermal as the most cost-effective and energy-efficient way to produce space heat and hot water. To that end, we have developed our patented SunQuest 250® solar thermal collector panel, a highly efficient solar collector that requires just a small footprint yet delivers outstanding results.

Despite the great success we’ve had, we continue to face an uphill battle as we work with our partners within the industry to make solar thermal the dominant clean energy source for certain kinds of applications. The biggest challenge we face is not with the technology itself. It is convincing those who would benefit from solar thermal to make the move. It is with this understanding that we look at a recent milestone reached in the UK as proof of concept.

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Solar Out Performs Coal

The kinds of projects we work on at Solar America Solutions involve individual solar thermal installations for commercial space heating and hot water. These projects are small compared to much larger projects designed to completely replace fossil fuels for electricity generation. In the UK, for example, they’ve been using solar thermal as a coal replacement for quite some time. That’s where the recent milestone comes in.

News reports say that solar collector panels in the UK produced more electricity than coal for an entire day. Solar has outpaced coal during peak sunlight hours in the past, but it has never produced more energy over the course of a full 24-hour period. On April 9 (2016) solar generated 4% of the total consumed thermal energy while coal accounted for 3%. An even better performance was recorded on May 8: solar produced 6% while coal remained at 3%.

Reaching this incredible milestone in the UK is proof of concept. In fact, it is better than proof of concept. Solar technology has come a long way over the decades to now be at a point where it is a viable replacement for all sorts of traditional options.

The Strength of Solar Thermal

Among all solar technologies, we believe the strongest contender in the marketplace is solar thermal. The strength of solar thermal is found in two of its main properties, beginning with the fact that solar thermal is based on heat energy rather than converting sunlight into electrical current. In a solar thermal installation, ultraviolet energy from the sun is converted to heat and then transferred to a heat exchanger via a highly efficient thermal liquid. That heat can be used to do nearly anything we currently use steam fossil fuels to do.

Second is the highly efficient nature of solar thermal. Take our patented SunQuest 250® solar collector panel as an example. Because it is based on the proven evacuated tube concept, there is very little energy loss involved. Nearly all of the energy collected is transferred as heat in a constantly circulating thermal liquid that makes it readily available very quickly. Furthermore, because solar thermal collector panels like our’s utilize ultraviolet energy, the technology works flawlessly even on cloudy and the coldest of days.

The success of solar thermal for large-scale electricity generation has already been proven. We now have to convince individual property owners that small-scale installations are equally beneficial. At Solar America Solutions, we know that to be the case. Every installation we have deployed for our customers has proven itself by delivering on its promises without fail. Solar thermal is, without a doubt, the best and most cost-efficient clean energy source in the market.

Sources:

  • Greentech Media – http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/for-the-first-time-ever-uk-solar-generated-more-electricity-than-coal