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Solar energy can be converted indirectly (thermal solar) into heat through thermal collectors. The resulting heat can reduce, or possibly eliminate, the need for water heaters.
Solar thermal energy is created by absorbing the heat of the sun with collecting devices such as flat-plate solar-energy collectors. Air or a heat collecting fluid passes through tubes within the collecting devices where it is warmed and then distributed to the appropriate heating system. Solar thermal power plants take the heated fluid process one step forward through the use of a heat transfer system to produce steam. The steam can then be converted into mechanical energy in a turbine, and into electricity from a conventional generator coupled to the turbine.
Is this the right technology for my situation?The following factors are important for solar thermal to be a viable option.
Close proximity of collector panels to need location
A high load factor or consistent heat use year round
Solar Power Facts:(Source: Solarbuzz.com)
For comparison purposes, total worldwide wind energy installations in 2000 were around 4,000 MW, growing at about 35% per annum.
Cumulative solar energy production accounts for less than 0.01% of total Global Primary Energy demand.
Solar Energy demand has grown at about 25% per annum over the past 15 years (hydrocarbon energy demand typically grows between 0-2% per annum).
The US market showed 33% growth in 2006.
To read a more in-depth review of the technologies, visit the NREL website:http://www.nrel.gov/learning/re_solar.html
Did You Know?
U.S. SOLAR MAPClick here to see a larger view of the map.
For more information on solar thermal energy or for a more in-depth resource map, click here.
FEATURED CASE STUDY
SOLAR ENERGY BROCHURE