What is Solar Thermal Technology?
Solar thermal technology uses the sun’s energy, rather than fossil fuels, to generate low-cost, environmentally friendly thermal energy. This energy is used to heat water or other fluids, and can also power solar cooling systems. Solar thermal systems differ from solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, which generate electricity rather than heat. Solar thermal systems drive business value by providing:
•Reduced Utility Bills: Businesses that require large quantities of hot water or other fluids must pay for the fuel required to heat those fluids. Solar thermal systems use solar energy to heat fluids, reducing utility bills by up to 70%.
•Compliance with Sustainability Mandates: Many commercial building owners face mandates requiring them to implement renewable energy technologies. Solar thermal systems can help meet these requirements while also providing solid ROI.
•Reduced Carbon Footprint: By utilizing solar energy instead of fossil fuels, solar thermal systems reduce the amount of site-generated, carbon-based greenhouse gases a business emits into the atmosphere.
How a Solar Water-Heating System Works
1.Solar thermal collectors (panels) on a roof, shade structure or other location absorb solar energy.
2.Solar fluid circulated through the collectors by a low-energy pump delivers heat to a water storage tank.
3.When users need hot water, the solar-heated water in the storage tank pre-feeds the primary water-heating system.
4.When pre-fed with the solar hot water, the boiler or water heater is either not activated, or activated for less time than if there were no solar hot water system.
5.Each month, building owners pay a lower bill for energy to heat water.
Solar Thermal System Types
Solar thermal technology comes in many shapes and sizes, and is used in a wide variety of commercial applications. Commonly seen types of solar thermal systems include:
Domestic Hot Water (DHW) systems
These include active and passive glycol systems (both closed and open loop), as well as drainback systems
Swimming Pool/Hot Tub-Heating Systems
There are closed loop glycol and drainback varieties
Space Heating Systems (radiant)
Usually attached to a DHW system
Combination of any of the above