Solar Thermal Energy – Applications & Advantages

Solar Thermal Energy

Solar energy is the main source of providing light and heat to the planet earth. Solar thermal energy is the energy collected from the sun and used to generate heat. This heat is usually concentrated using mirrors and used for heating water later. Hot water is used in residences or businesses or it is heated up until it turns into steam that can be used to turn turbines for generating electricity. According to the studies, Earth receives a total of 174 (PW) of solar radiation at the upper atmosphere. While traveling through the atmosphere 6% of the incoming solar radiations are reflected and 16% is absorbed by the Earth.

APPLICATIONS

There are many different ways the energy is used in the daily routine a few of them are mentioned below.

DOMESTIC WATER HEATING

A flat-plate solar collector collects the heat from the sun and transfers the heat to water or another liquid flowing through tubes. Two basic solar heating systems exist to produce hot water: active and passive. An active pumped system has an open loop where the water is directly heated by the solar collector. The passive solar heating system has a closed loop where antifreeze or glycol mixture is heated before transferring its heat to the water by a heat exchanger. A most common design of the closed-loop system is known as a drain back system.

DOMESTIC SPACE HEATING

Collecting the sun’s energy with a solar collector and directing the energy into a “thermal mass” for storage later when space is the coldest. A thermal mass can be a mounted wall, floor or any storage drum used specifically to absorb and store the energy.

CROP DRYING

Energy is used for the Controlled drying of various crops and products, such as grain, coffee, tobacco, fruits vegetables, and fish. The quality of these crops and products enhances if the drying is properly carried out. The thermal technology effectively assists with the drying of such products. Solar crop drying technologies can help reduce environmental degradation caused by the use of fossil fuels and can also help to reduce the costs associated with these fuels and the product. Helping to improve and protect the quality of crops also has beneficial effects on health and nutrition.

ADVANTAGES

From many advantages of using solar thermal energy, below are the most prominent ones.

RENEWABLE

Solar energy is infinitely renewable unlike energy generated from fossil fuels. Solar energy is simple, cheaper and easily available, which makes the use of renewable technology more reliable over the long-term. The use of solar energy is making the world more energy-independent by reducing the energy demand and supply gap.

NON-POLLUTING

It produces no pollutants, toxic chemicals or greenhouse gases and reduces the climate-damaging hazards. The concerns about the negative effects of climate change have increased. It is a safe alternative to traditional energy sources, which emit heavy carbon loads. The heat generated by the burning of natural gas produces no carbon emissions with comparison to the heat generated by solar power.

LOW MAINTENANCE

After the initial installation, solar thermal energy is generally low maintenance in comparison with the devices that produce energy from fossil fuels. It takes a smaller crew to run thermal arrays than more complex electricity generating facilities. Many new devices, especially the one that heats water, involve simpler technology than photovoltaic panels.

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