(Old) Technologies & Applications

Passive Solar


PASSIVE SOLAR is the smartest, cheapest and most efficient way to utilize abundant (and free) solar energy! Passive solar does not involve the use of mechanical and electrical devices; instead, passive solar technologies and techniques take advantage of the sun’s position throughout the year (and the local climate) to heat, cool, and light a building, improving the buildings’ overall comfort and energy efficiency.

TECHNOLOGY: Passive Solar incorporates smart building layout and architectural elements to maximize solar heat gain in winter months and minimize solar heat gain in summer months. This reduces the need to heat and cool a building. Passive solar construction can also use daylighting to reduce demand for electricity for lighting.

    • strategic design & architecture
    • building materials
    • windows
    • ventilation
    • energy efficiency measures (i.e. insulation, weatherstripping, duct sealing, etc.)
    • building and lot orientation
    • landscaping
    • awnings
USED FOR:
  • Electricity
  • Water/Space Heating
  • Cooling
IN THESE SECTORS:
  • Residential
  • Commercial

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passive solarThe Zion National Park Visitors Center features passive solar design elements
 

Solar PV


SOLAR PHOTOVOLTAIC (PV) systems are made with semiconducting materials that produce electricity in the form of direct current (DC) when they are exposed to sunlight. Solar PV systems are made from two types of solar cells: crystalline silicon and thin film. Solar PV systems can either be connected to the electricity grid (on-grid) or independent of the grid. These off-grid systems require additional back-up generation or energy storage using a battery backup. Hybrid systems are connected to the grid and utilize battery back-ups; hybrid systems will provide you with energy in the event of a power outage.
 
 
USED FOR:
  • Electricity
 
 
IN THESE SECTORS:
  • Residential
  • Commercial
  • Industrial
  • Utility Power Plants
TYPES OF SOLAR PHOTOVOLTAIC CELLS: 
Crystalline silicon cells can be fashioned from either mono-crystalline, multi-crystalline, or ribbon silicon. Crystalline silicon solar PV panels are the most commonly used.    Crystalline silicon cells
An array of solar PV crystalline silicon panels on a commercial building
Thin-film solar cells are made from amorphous silicon, cadmium telluride, copper indium gallium diselenide, among others. Thin film solar cells use layers of semiconductor materials a few micrometers thick, which allow for greater flexibility.
thin film  A house with rooftop thin film solar tiles

 

Solar Thermal

SOLAR THERMAL (OR SOLAR HOT WATER) systems consist of a series of tubes that concentrate light to heat either water or a heat-transfer fluid (such as food-grade propylene glycol, a non-toxic substance) in one of two types of collectors.  Solar thermal systems can either be active or passive, closed-loop or open-loop.
 

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USED FOR: Water or Space Heating IN THESE SECTORS:
  • Residential
  • Commercial
  • Agricultural
  • Industrial
TYPES OF SOLAR THERMAL COLLECTORS:
Flat-plate collectors use a dark absorber plate that is enclosed in an insulated case and covered in glass or plastic.
libeccihouse cropped
  A flat-plate collector
Evacuated tube collectors are made of parallel rows of tubes that each contain an absorber tube. Evacuated tube collectors can achieve higher temperatures than flat-plate collectors (up to 350°F!) 
 
evac tube
An evacuated tube collector

Industrial Scale Solar

SOLAR PROCESS HEAT technologies provide heat for industrial-specific applications, including ventilation air preheating, solar process heating, and solar cooling. Large commerical and industrial properties can take advantage of solar process heat where it would be impractical for a small home or business. 

 
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USED FOR:

  • Cooling
  • Water/Space Heating

IN THESE SECTORS:

  • Commercial
  • Industrial

 solar process heat
A transpired collector for
space heating

Utility Scale Solar

Utility-scale solar installations provide large amounts of fixed-price energy that is connected to the electrical grid and sold to utility consumers. Utility-scale solar installations can use any solar technologies, however large utility-scale projects can also take advantage of some technologies that would be impractical for a homeowner or a small business. Concentrator Photovoltaic and Concentrating Solar Power technologies concentrate the sun's power to focus more sunlight on solar collectors and yield greater energy production.

CONCENTRATOR PHOTOVOLTAIC (CPV) systems make use of plastic lenses and metal housings to capture the solar energy shining on a fairly large area and focus that energy onto a smaller area—the solar cell.

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USED FOR:

  • Electricity

IN THESE SECTORS:

  • Residential
  • Commercial
  • Agricultural
  • Industrial
  • Utility Power Plants
CPV
 
A concentrator photovoltaic system
 
CONCENTRATING SOLAR POWER (CSP) systems use the sun as a heat source to boil water. The steam from the boiling water spins a large turbine, which drives a generator to produce electricity.
 
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 USED FOR:

  • Electricity

IN THESE SECTORS:

  • Utility Power Plants
 
TYPES OF CONCENTRATING SOLAR POWER SYSTEMS: 
Linear concentrator systems collect the sun's energy using long, rectangular, curved (U-shaped) mirrors, tilted toward the sun to focus sunlight on tubes (or receivers) filled with heat-transfer fluid that run the length of the mirrors. The two major types of linear concentrator systems are parabolic trough systems and linear Fresnel reflector systems.

linear CSP

A linear CSP power plant

A dish/engine system uses a mirrored dish similar to a very large satellite dish, whose surface directs and concentrates sunlight onto a thermal receiver, which absorbs and collects the heat and transfers it to the engine generator.

 dsih CSP

 A dish/engine CSP power plant

A power tower system uses a large field of flat, sun-tracking mirrors (heliostats) to focus and concentrate sunlight onto a receiver on the top of a tower. A heat-transfer fluid heated in the receiver is used to generate steam, which, in turn, is used in a conventional turbine generator to produce electricity.

power tower CSP

A power tower CSP power plant

 

Solar-Ready Building

 

A solar ready building is designed to accommodate a solar installation, even if the solar installation does not occur at the time of construction. A building which is not designed to accommodate solar may require renovations should the building owner want to install a solar system later in the building's lifespan. Solar ready buildings allow owners to take advantage of a changing energy market, giving them flexibility should they want to invest in clean energy at a later date.

Solar ready design features, if considered early in the design process, are typically low or no cost. In the planning stages of a solar ready building, designers and builders should consider how the building orientation, available roof space, and roof material will affect future solar energy systems. Wiring and plumbing should be ready to accommodate solar photovoltaic and solar hot water systems. All of this serves to lower the cost of a future installation by making the it faster and easier. This eliminates barriers to future solar applications and facilitates market growth. The Solar Ready Buildings Planning Guide [PDF], published by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in 2009, details the technical processes for making buildings solar ready.

 

Sources:

National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Solar Energy Basics: http://www.nrel.gov/learning/re_solar.html

U.S. Department of Energy http://www.eere.energy.gov/basics/renewable_energy/solar.html

 

 

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