Solar thermal energy has brought a new piece of tech into the energy sector that has the capabilities to revolutionize your facility. This new tech is essentially a smaller solar collector, less than ¼’’, that fits directly behind your photovoltaic (PV) panel. This device absorbs uncaptured solar energy which significantly increases the electric output while also generating thermal energy.
Before we dive deeper into this new product, let’s first discuss what solar thermal energy is.
What is Solar Thermal Energy?
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, solar thermal is the overarching category that describes a piece of technology that takes sunlight and converts it into heat. That heat can be used for three primary purposes: to be converted into electricity, to heat water for use in your facility, or to heat spaces within your facility. A different piece of technology would be needed to create all of these different outcomes. The new solar collector product focuses on taking the heat absorbed off the solar panels and heating water in the facility.
How is Solar Thermal Different from Solar PV?
This is a common question and one that we answer quite frequently. In short, solar thermal energy technologies use the heat from the sun to produce energy, while solar PVs take advantage of the “photovoltaic effect” of some semiconductors like silicon to produce a flow of electricity right from the sun’s rays.
If you want to dig a little deeper, for solar PV the basic unit of light, the photon strikes a surface of a specially made material that causes the release of an electron. However, in solar thermal, it uses sunlight to boil a fluid. This fluid can be water or any liquid, depending on its application.
For more information about solar PV, check out this blog, “How To Invest In Solar Energy.”
Main Ways this New Solar Thermal Tech Can Benefit Your Business
1. Maintain a Polished Aesthetic
As said before, the solar collector fits nicely behind each PV panel as it’s only a quarter of an inch wide. There is no need for additional space and the original clean look of the solar panels will stay the same — no need to worry about an eyesore.
2. Collectors Fit on Any Solar Array
If you are worried about needing to get a new solar array, there is no need. These new solar collectors can fight on any! If you don’t have solar and are considering it, they can also be installed at the same time as the PV panels.
3. PV Panels Become More Efficient
Solar thermal products absorb uncaptured solar energy which will actually increase the electric output while also generating thermal energy. It’s a win-win!
4. More Energy Storage
5. On Demand Thermal Energy All Year Around
Storing thermal energy can be used to move hot water throughout the facility on command. Also, this solar thermal energy product works all year round.
What Industry Would Benefit Most from this New Tech?
Facilities that have a large boiler system or need large amounts of water heated would be a perfect candidate for this new solar collector. Here are some industries that we think would be a good fit:
- Assisted Living
- Car Washes
- Fitness Centers
- Hotels & Military Barracks
- Multi-Family Housing
- Restaurants/Food Processing
- Salons & Spas