Solar Thermal.

Solar thermal technology uses the sun to produce heat which can be utilized in a variety of ways. People have been using solar thermal energy for thousands of years for a variety of tasks, and modern technology has considerably expanded the applications for the sun’s thermal energy. Solar thermal technology should not be confused with solar power technology, in which the sun’s light is used to produce electrical energy.Some of the applications for solar thermal energy are very ancient. For example, solar drying is a technique which uses heat from the sun in food preservation. In this application, food products are laid out on rocks, and the sun’s warmth is used to dry them. Evaporation ponds such as those used to concentrate salt also utilize solar thermal energy, and desalination plants can also apply this energy.For centuries solar thermal energy is also used for cooking, sometimes in very creative ways. Solar ovens use solar thermal energy, and solar thermal energy can be used to heat water to generate steam for cooking. Pasteurization can also be accomplished with the use of concentrated heat from the sun. Another use of this type of energy is in distillation of fluids, and, of course, in hot water heating. Water heated with solar thermal energy can be used for bathing, cleaning, and cooking. It can also be used for home heating; heated water, for example, can be circulated underneath a floor to warm it.

Solar thermal energy can even be used for cooling, although it sounds paradoxical to harness heat to cool things down. In this application, it is used in a process known as evaporative cooling or absorption cooling which can be used to keep buildings cool. All of these applications for the sun’s heat can be basic to advanced, accessible to people in communities all over the world, including communities in developing nations.

Finally, heat from the sun can be used in electricity generation. This requires some modern technology, but one advantage is that since heat can be stored, a solar thermal energy plant can operate 24 hours a day to meet power needs. These facilities are typically located in areas which get a lot of sun, so that the maximum amount of solar thermal energy can be harnessed.

Q: What is PV or photovoltaics?A: What do we mean by photovoltaics? The word itself helps to explain how photovoltaic (PV) or solar electric technologies work. First used in about 1890, the word has two parts: photo, a stem derived from the Greek phos, which means light, and volt, a measurement unit named for Alessandro Volta (1745-1827), a pioneer in the study of electricity. So, photovoltaics could literally be translated as light-electricity. And that is just what photovoltaic materials and devices do; they convert light energy to electricity, as Alexandre-Edmond Becquerel and others discovered in the 19th Century.Q: What are the components of a photovoltaic (PV) system?

A: A PV system is made up of different components. These include PV modules (groups of PV cells), which are commonly called PV panels; a charge regulator or controller for a stand-alone system; an inverter for converting alternating current (ac) rather than direct current (dc) is required; wiring; and mounting hardware or a framework.

Q: How does the system work?

A: Daylight hits the photovoltaic cells and is converted to clean electricity.  The inverter converts the electricity from direct to alternating current, for use in the home.  When the solar energy system is producing more power than is needed it is exported to the grid.  At night, power is imported from the grid in the normal way.

Q: What is the difference between a kilowatt (kW) and a unit or a kilowatt hour ( kWh)?A: A kW is a thousand watts and a unit of power.  It measures the rate of energy conversion.  A kWh is the amount of work done, or energy used, when a kW of power works for one hour.Q: Do Solar Panels create energy?

A: A basic tenet of thermodynamics is that energy is never actually created only converted; solar panels convert solar energy into electricity rather than just creating it.

Q: Does the system need batteries?


A: No, the system is connected to the national grid.  In the night, when the cells are not generating energy, electricity is not pushed into the grid. The electricity generated during the day is sold back to the utility company.

Batteries are only required if you want a truly off-grid solution and independence from any power cuts that might occur.  They are also required if you own a property which is not attached to the grid in order that power produced during the day can be stored for use in the evening. Batteries add significant costs to a solar system so are normally only never offered with a grid tied solar PV system.

Q: How can I connect my system to the grid?

A: Connecting a PV system to the distribution network will require permission from your energy producer. Our licensed L2 ASP will help you to acquire this permission and connect your system to the grid.

Q: How long will it take to install my system?

A: PV systems can be installed and ready to produce electricty in 8-10 weeks from the time the design has been agreed.

Q: How big a solar energy system do I need?

A: The size of solar system you need depends on several factors such as how much electricity you use, how much sunshine is available where you are, the size of your roof, and how much you’re willing to invest.  After talking through your exact needs we will be well placed to recommend the size of system you use.

Q: Will I ever have to go without power?

A: Your home will still be connected to the National grid. The solar power output will be connected to the grid with a different line, and will have no connection to your house electric line. As a result, you will never go without power if there is no power cut from the grid.

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