First Edition, 2011

ISBN 978-93-81157-72-5

© All rights reserved.

Published by: The English Press 4735/22 Prakashdeep Bldg, Ansari Road, Darya Ganj, Delhi - 110002 Email: 

Table of Contents
Chapter 1- Introduction Chapter 2 - Photovoltaics Chapter 3 - Solar Panel Chapter 4 - Solar Water Heating Chapter 5 - Solar Combisystem Chapter 6 - Solar Thermal Collector Chapter 7 - Active Solar Chapter 8 - Solar Thermal Energy Chapter 9 - Space-Based Solar Power

Other large CSP plants include the Solnova Solar Power Station (150 MW) and the Andasol solar power station (100 MW). Commercial CSP plants were first developed in the 1980s. Applications . Solar power is the conversion of sunlight into electricity. and the 354 MW SEGS CSP installation is the largest solar power plant in the world and is located in the Mojave Desert of California.Chapter.1 Introduction The PS10 concentrates sunlight from a field of heliostats on a central tower. The 80 MW Sarnia Photovoltaic Power Plant in Canada. is the world’s largest photovoltaic plant. PV converts light into electric current using the photoelectric effect. CSP systems use lenses or mirrors and tracking systems to focus a large area of sunlight into a small beam. both in Spain. or indirectly using concentrated solar power (CSP). either directly using photovoltaics (PV).

Insolation for most people is from 150 to 300 W/m² or 3. or indirectly with concentrated solar power (CSP). although cost has been decreasing due to the learning curve.Average insolation showing land area (small black dots) required to replace the world primary energy supply with solar electricity. Concentrating solar power .5 to 7. and other technologies. which normally focuses the sun's energy to boil water which is then used to provide power. Photovoltaics were initially used to power small and medium-sized applications. from the calculator powered by a single solar cell to off-grid homes powered by a photovoltaic array. such as the sterling engine dishes which use a sterling cycle engine to power a generator. 18 TW is 568 Exajoule (EJ) per year. Sunlight can be converted directly into electricity using photovoltaics (PV).0 kWh/m²/day. Solar power is the conversion of sunlight into electricity. The only significant problem with solar power is installation cost. although small solar applications are now replacing other sources in the developing world. Developing countries in particular may not have the funds to build solar power plants.

and that more reflectors can be placed in the same amount of space. the most developed are the parabolic trough. Various techniques are used to track the Sun and focus light. Parabolic trough systems provide the best land-use factor of any solar technology. The receiver is a tube positioned right above the middle of the parabolic mirror and is filled with a working fluid. In all of these systems a working fluid is heated by the concentrated sunlight. This has the advantage that flat mirrors can be used which are much cheaper than parabolic mirrors. The concentrated heat is then used as a heat source for a conventional power plant. Nevada are representatives of this technology. Concentrating linear fresnel reflectors are CSP-plants which use many thin mirror strips instead of parabolic mirrors to concentrate sunlight onto two tubes with working fluid. developed by Melvin Prueitt. and is then used for power generation or energy storage. the Stirling dish and the solar power tower. uses a technique inspired by Archimedes' principle to rotate the mirrors. A wide range of concentrating technologies exists.Solar troughs are the most widely deployed. . Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) systems use lenses or mirrors and tracking systems to focus a large area of sunlight into a small beam. The reflector is made to follow the Sun during the daylight hours by tracking along a single axis. The Suntrof-Mulk parabolic trough. The SEGS plants in California and Acciona's Nevada Solar One near Boulder City. A parabolic trough consists of a linear parabolic reflector that concentrates light onto a receiver positioned along the reflector's focal line. the concentrating linear fresnel reflector.

The advantages of stirling solar over photovoltaic cells are higher efficiency of converting sunlight into electricity and longer lifetime. Concentrating linear fresnel reflectors can be used in either large or more compact plants. A stirling solar dish. The reflector tracks the Sun along two axes. The 50 kW Big Dish in Canberra. A solar power tower uses an array of tracking reflectors (heliostats) to concentrate light on a central receiver atop a tower. California and the Planta Solar 10 in Sanlucar la Mayor. The stirling solar dish combines a parabolic concentrating dish with a stirling heat engine which normally drives an electric generator. Photovoltaics 11 MW Serpa solar power plant in Portugal . consists of a stand-alone parabolic reflector that concentrates light onto a receiver positioned at the reflector's focal point. Power towers are more cost effective. Parabolic dish systems give the highest efficiency among CSP technologies. or dish engine system. Australia is an example of this technology. The Solar Two in Barstow.allowing more of the available sunlight to be used. offer higher efficiency and better energy storage capability among CSP technologies. Spain are representatives of this technology.

The earliest significant application of solar cells was as a back-up power source to the Vanguard I satellite in 1958. Following the work of Russell Ohl in the 1940s. or photovoltaic cell (PV). It is too early to know which technology will become dominant. The successful operation of solar cells on this mission was duplicated in many other Soviet and American satellites. Dr Bruno Lange. both Ernst Werner von Siemens and James Clerk Maxwell recognized the importance of this discovery. and they remain vital to the telecommunications infrastructure today. Photovoltaics went on to play an essential part in the success of early commercial satellites such as Telstar.5–6%. navigational buoys and railroad crossings. off-shore oil rigs. monocrystalline silicon. . but in 2008 supplied less than 0. Although the prototype selenium cells converted less than 1% of incident light into electricity. There are many competing technologies. such as thin film. This changed in the early 1970s when prices reached levels that made PV generation competitive in remote areas without grid access. as well as multiple types of concentrating solar power. The first solar cell was constructed by Charles Fritts in the 1880s. In 1931 a German engineer. researchers Gerald Pearson. Calvin Fuller and Daryl Chapin created the silicon solar cell in 1954. These off-grid applications accounted for over half of worldwide installed capacity until 2004. developed a photo cell using silver selenide in place of copper oxide. and by the late 1960s. Early terrestrial uses included powering telecommunication stations. Solar power has great potential. is a device that converts light into electric current using the photoelectric effect.02% of the world's total energy supply. These early solar cells cost 286 USD/watt and reached efficiencies of 4.A solar cell. including fourteen types of photovoltaic cells. polycrystalline silicon. which allowed it to continue transmitting for over a year after its chemical battery was exhausted. PV had become the established source of power for them. and amorphous cells. The high cost of solar cells limited terrestrial uses throughout the 1960s.

The 1973 oil crisis stimulated a rapid rise in the production of PV during the 1970s and early 1980s. As a result. leadership in the PV sector has shifted from the US to Japan and Europe. These factors moderated growth to approximately 15% per year from 1984 through 1996. Economies of scale which resulted from increasing production along with improvements in system performance brought the price of PV down from 100 USD/watt in 1971 to 7 USD/watt in 1985. established net metering guidelines. Steadily falling oil prices during the early 1980s led to a reduction in funding for photovoltaic R&D and a discontinuation of the tax credits associated with the Energy Tax Act of 1978. Between 1992 and 1994 Japan increased R&D funding. Since the mid-1990s. installing almost half of the photovoltaics (45%) in the world. Spain became the largest PV market after adopting a similar feed-in tariff structure in 2004.150 MW at the end of 2007. Installed PV capacity has risen from 100 MW in 2000 to approximately 4.2 MW in 1994 to 318 MW in 1999. and worldwide production growth increased to 30% in the late 1990s.Building-integrated photovoltaics cover the roofs of an increasing number of homes. After 2007. Germany became the leading PV market worldwide since revising its Feed-in tariff system as part of the Renewable Energy Sources Act. and introduced a subsidy program to encourage the installation of residential PV systems. PV installations in the country climbed from 31. while . in 2008.

deployment and economics Nellis Solar Power Plant. Italy. Development. The power output of domestic photovoltaic devices is usually described in kilowatt-peak (kWp) units. 14 MW power plant installed 2007 in Nevada. In 1974 it was estimated that only six private homes in all of North America were entirely heated or cooled by functional solar power systems. South Korea and the U. as most are from 1 to 10 kW. have seen rapid growth recently due to various incentive programs and local market conditions. Recent Studies have shown that the global PV market is forecast to exceed 16 GW in the year 2010 .S. USA The early development of solar technologies starting in the 1860s was driven by an expectation that coal would soon become scarce. However development of solar technologies stagnated in the early 20th century in the face of the increasing availability.France. economy. and utility of coal and petroleum. Other . The 1973 oil embargo and 1979 energy crisis caused a reorganization of energy policies around the world and brought renewed attention to developing solar technologies. Deployment strategies focused on incentive programs such as the Federal Photovoltaic Utilization Program in the US and the Sunshine Program in Japan.

Commercial concentrating solar thermal power (CSP) plants were first developed in the 1980s. now NREL). CSP plants such as SEGS project in the United States have a levelized energy cost (LEC) of 12–14 ¢/kWh. but falling oil prices in the early 1980s moderated the growth of PV from 1984 to 1996. is Europe's first commercial CSP system. Ciudad Completed Spain Real May 2009 Completed July Spain Badajoz 2009 Torre de Miguel Completed Spain Sesmero (Badajoz) February 2010 completed July Spain Alvarado (Badajoz) 2010 USA . global warming concerns. and the improving economic position of PV relative to other energy technologies. Since 1997. Between 1970 and 1983 photovoltaic installations grew rapidly. Operational Solar Thermal Power Stations Capacity (MW) Name Country USA Location Mojave Desert California Notes Collection of 9 units Completed 2010 Solar Energy 354 Generating Systems 150 Solnova Solar Power Station Andasol solar power station Spain Seville 100 Spain Granada Completed 2009 64 Nevada Solar One 50 Ibersol Ciudad Real 50 Alvarado I 50 Extresol 1 50 La Florida Boulder City. Photovoltaic production growth has averaged 40% per year since 2000 and installed capacity reached 10. Japan (NEDO).6 GW at the end of 2007. The 11 MW PS10 power tower in Spain.73 GW in 2008. PV development has accelerated due to supply issues with oil and natural gas. and a total capacity of 300 MW is expected to be installed in the same area by 2013. and 14.2 ¢/kWh and grid power for 9 ¢/kWh. Nellis Air Force Base is receiving photoelectric power for about 2. 50% of commercial systems were installed in this manner in 2007 and it is expected that 90% will by 2009. Nevada Puertollano. and Germany (Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE). completed in late 2005.efforts included the formation of research facilities in the US (SERI. Since 2006 it has been economical for investors to install photovoltaics for free in return for a long term power purchase agreement.

Solar installations in recent years have also largely begun to expand into residential areas, with governments offering incentive programs to make "green" energy a more economically viable option. In Canada the RESOP (Renewable Energy Standard Offer Program), introduced in 2006, and updated in 2009 with the passage of the Green Energy Act, allows residential homeowners in Ontario with solar panel installations to sell the energy they produce back to the grid (i.e., the government) at 42¢/kWh, while drawing power from the grid at an average rate of 6¢/kWh. The program is designed to help promote the government's green agenda and lower the strain often placed on the energy grid at peak hours. In March, 2009 the proposed FIT was increased to 80¢/kWh for small, roof-top systems (≤10 kW). As of November 2010, the largest photovoltaic (PV) power plants in the world are the Finsterwalde Solar Park (Germany, 80.7 MW), Sarnia Photovoltaic Power Plant (Canada, 80 MW), Olmedilla Photovoltaic Park (Spain, 60 MW), the Strasskirchen Solar Park (Germany, 54 MW), the Lieberose Photovoltaic Park (Germany, 53 MW), and the Puertollano Photovoltaic Park (Spain, 50 MW). World's largest photovoltaic (PV) power plants DC Name of PV power Peak Country Notes plant Power (MW) Finsterwalde Solar Park Germany 80.7 Sarnia Photovoltaic Canada 80 Completed October 2010 Power Plant Olmedilla Photovoltaic Spain 60 Completed September 2008 Park Strasskirchen Solar Park Germany 54 Lieberose Photovoltaic Germany 53 2009 Park Puertollano Spain 50 2008 Photovoltaic Park Moura photovoltaic Portugal 46 Completed December 2008 power station Kothen Solar Park Germany 45 2009 Finsterwalde Solar Park Germany 42 2009 550,000 First Solar thin-film CdTe modules. Completed Waldpolenz Solar Park Germany 40 December 2008 Czech 186,960 modules, 35.1 Vepřek Solar Park Republic completed September 2010 Planta Solar La Spain 34.5 Magascona & La

Magasquila The annual International Conference on Solar Photovoltaic Investments, organized by EPIA notes that photovoltaics provides a secure, reliable return on investment, with modules typically lasting 25 to 40 years and with a payback on investment of between 8 to 12 years.

Energy storage methods

This energy park in Geesthacht, Germany, includes solar panels and pumped-storage hydroelectricity.

Seasonal variation of the output of the solar panels at AT&T Park in San Francisco Solar energy is not available at night, making energy storage an important issue in order to provide the continuous availability of energy. Both wind power and solar power are intermittent energy sources, meaning that all available output must be taken when it is available and either stored for when it can be used, or transported, over transmission lines, to where it can be used. Wind power and solar power tend to be somewhat complementary, as there tends to be more wind in the winter and more sun in the summer, but on days with no sun and no wind the difference needs to be made up in some manner. The Institute for Solar Energy Supply Technology of the University of Kassel pilot-tested a combined power plant linking solar, wind, biogas and hydrostorage to provide load-following power around the clock, entirely from renewable sources. Solar energy can be stored at high temperatures using molten salts. Salts are an effective storage medium because they are low-cost, have a high specific heat capacity and can deliver heat at temperatures compatible with conventional power systems. The Solar Two used this method of energy storage, allowing it to store 1.44 TJ in its 68 m³ storage tank, enough to provide full output for close to 39 hours, with an efficiency of about 99%. Off-grid PV systems have traditionally used rechargeable batteries to store excess electricity. With grid-tied systems, excess electricity can be sent to the transmission grid. Net metering programs give these systems a credit for the electricity they deliver to the grid. This credit offsets electricity provided from the grid when the system cannot meet demand, effectively using the grid as a storage mechanism. Credits are normally rolled over month to month and any remaining surplus settled annually. Pumped-storage hydroelectricity stores energy in the form of water pumped when surplus electricity is available, from a lower elevation reservoir to a higher elevation one. The

or "thermovoltaic" devices convert a temperature difference between dissimilar materials into an electric current. thermoelectrics reemerged in the Soviet Union during the 1930s. Luminescent solar concentrators (when combined with a PV-solar cell) can also be regarded as a CPV system. and the motor a hydroelectric power generator. Experimental solar power Concentrating photovoltaics in Catalonia. First proposed as a method to store solar energy by solar pioneer Mouchout in the 1800s. Luminescent solar concentrators are useful as they can improve performance of PV-solar panels drastically. Solar concentrators of all varieties may be used. Thermogenerators were later used in the US space program as an energy conversion . Spain Concentrated photovoltaics (CPV) systems employ sunlight concentrated onto photovoltaic surfaces for the purpose of electrical power production. and these are often mounted on a solar tracker in order to keep the focal point upon the cell as the Sun moves across the sky. Under the direction of Soviet scientist Abram Ioffe a concentrating system was used to thermoelectrically generate power for a 1 hp engine. is recovered when demand is high by releasing the water: the pump becomes a turbine.

and mined Uranium. or the filtering effect of Earth's atmospheric gases. there is no shortage of energy reaching the surface. weather. In for powering deep space missions such as Cassini. Galileo and Viking. The amount of solar energy reaching the surface of the planet each year is about twice the amount of energy that will be obtained forever from coal. Average solar energy per unit area outside Earth's atmosphere is on the order of ten times that available on Earth's surface. collection of the Sun's energy is unaffected by the day/night cycle. natural gas. However. Space-based solar power is a theoretical design for the collection of solar power in space. often referred to as a solar power satellite (SPS). rather than on Earth's surface. . SBSP differs from the usual method of solar power collection in that the solar panels used to collect the energy would reside on a satellite in orbit. combined. even using breeder reactors. seasons. Research in this area is focused on raising the efficiency of these devices from 7–8% to 15–20%. for use on Earth. oil.

These panels track the sun in one axis.Chapter. .2 Photovoltaics Nellis Solar Power Plant at Nellis Air Force Base in the USA.

Due to the growing demand for renewable energy sources. amorphous silicon. solar photovoltaics generates electricity in more than 100 countries and. cadmium telluride. polycrystalline silicon. the manufacturing of solar cells and photovoltaic arrays has advanced considerably in recent years. Photovoltaic power generation employs solar panels comprising a number of cells containing a photovoltaic material. Materials presently used for photovoltaics include monocrystalline silicon.Photovoltaic system 'tree' in Styria. while yet comprising a tiny fraction of the 4800 GW total global power-generating . and copper indium selenide/sulfide. As of 2010. Austria Photovoltaics (PV) is a method of generating electrical power by converting solar radiation into direct current electricity using semiconductors that exhibit the photovoltaic effect.

is the fastest growing power-generation technology in the world. have supported solar PV installations in many countries. In most photovoltaic applications the radiation is sunlight and for this reason the devices are known as solar cells. to some 21 GW. Off-grid PV accounts for an additional 3–4 GW. electrons are ejected from a material's surface upon exposure to radiation of sufficient energy. illumination of the material results in the creation of an electric current as excited electrons and the remaining holes are swept in different directions by the built-in electric field of the depletion region. Solar cells . such as preferential feed-in tariffs for solar-generated electricity. In the photoelectric effect. Between 2004 and 2009. The photovoltaic effect was first observed by Alexandre-Edmond Becquerel in 1839. grid-connected PV capacity increased at an annual average rate of 60 percent.e. Such installations may be ground-mounted (and sometimes integrated with farming and grazing) or built into the roof or walls of a building. The photovoltaic effect is different in that the generated electrons are transferred between different bands (i. Though the photovoltaic effect is directly related to the photoelectric effect. Photovoltaic effect The photovoltaic effect is the creation of a voltage (or a corresponding electric current) in a material upon exposure to light. Driven by advances in technology and increases in manufacturing scale and sophistication. the two processes are different and should be distinguished. In the case of a p-n junction solar cell. the cost of photovoltaics has declined steadily since the first solar cells were manufactured. known as Building Integrated Photovoltaics or BIPV for short.capacity from all sources. from the valence to conduction bands) within the material. Net metering and financial incentives. resulting in the buildup of a voltage between two electrodes.

The photovoltaic effect refers to photons of light knocking electrons into a higher state of energy to create electricity. boats. The term photovoltaic denotes the unbiased operating mode of a photodiode in which current through the device is entirely due to the transduced light energy. Virtually all photovoltaic devices are some type of photodiode. and cathodic protection of pipelines. but today the majority of photovoltaic modules are used for grid connected power generation. The first practical application of photovoltaics was to power orbiting satellites and other spacecraft. Solar cells produce direct current electricity from sun light. remote sensing.Solar cells produce electricity directly from sunlight Photovoltaics are best known as a method for generating electric power by using solar cells to convert energy from the sun into electricity. roadside emergency telephones. There is a smaller market for off-grid power for remote dwellings. . which can be used to power equipment or to recharge a battery. In this case an inverter is required to convert the DC to AC. electric cars. recreational vehicles.

When more power is required than a single cell can deliver. Note that this is for a horizontal surface. . the manufacture of solar cells and photovoltaic arrays has advanced dramatically in recent years. Italy and France triggered a huge growth in demand. The first commercial installation of this kind was in 1966 on Ogami Island in Japan to transition Ogami Lighthouse from gas torch to fully self-sufficient electrical power. from an extra 2500 MW in 2008. Cells require protection from the environment and are usually packaged tightly behind a glass sheet. A significant market has emerged in off-grid locations for solar-power-charged storagebattery based solutions. to an expected additional 375 MW in 2009. whereas solar panels are normally mounted at an angle and receive more energy per unit area. These often provide the only electricity available. The small black dots show the area of solar panels needed to generate all of the world's energy using 8% efficient photovoltaics. A single module is enough to power an emergency telephone. or solar panels. Due to the growing demand for renewable energy sources. Although the selling price of modules is still too high to compete with grid electricity in most places. In 2008. Spain installed 45% of all photovoltaics. but a change in law limiting the feed-in tariff is expected to cause a precipitous drop in the rate of new installations there. significant financial incentives in Japan and then Germany. cells are electrically connected together to form photovoltaic modules. watts per square metre. followed quickly by production.Average solar irradiance. but for a house or a power plant the modules must be arranged in multiples as arrays.

Such installations may be groundmounted (and sometimes integrated with farming and grazing) or built into the roof or walls of a building. Current developments . The EPIA/Greenpeace Advanced Scenario shows that by the year 2030. 2. and 7.Photovoltaic production has been increasing by an average of more than 20 percent each year since 2002.200 MWp). depending on geographical location.15 percent of global demand at the time. According to Navigant Consulting and Electronic Trend Publications. Photovoltaic power capacity is measured as maximum power output under standardized test conditions (STC) in "Wp" (Watts peak). Therefore the 2008 installed base peak output would have provided an average output of 3. was set by Spain in 2008. the manufacture of solar cells and modules had expanded in recent years. weather conditions. Roughly 90% of this generating capacity consists of grid-tied electrical systems. Germany was also the fastest growing major PV market in the world from 2006 to 2007 industry observers speculate that Germany could install more than 4. This represented 0.800 MW of solar PV in 2009. the estimated PV worldwide installations outlooks of 2012 are 18. The German PV industry generates over 10.8GW and 12. The actual power output at a particular point in time may be less than or greater than this standardized.3GW respectively.800 MW of solar PV in 2009. Solar photovoltaic array capacity factors are typically under 25%. the cumulative global PV installations surpassed 21. which is lower than many other industrial sources of electricity.826 gigawatts peak (GWp) in 2007. The three leading countries (Germany. The previous record. At the end of 2009. the US installed about 500 MW in 2009. time of day. assuming a serious commitment is made to energy efficiency. By the end of 2006. or "rated. nearly 88% of all solar PV installations in the EU were in grid-tied applications in Germany.000 jobs in production. and other factors.500 MW in 2010. Japan and the US) represent nearly 89% of the total worldwide PV installed capacity.04 GW (assuming 20% × 15." value. Notably.5 gigawatts in 2009. known as Building Integrated Photovoltaics or BIPV for short. Solar PV power stations today have capacities ranging from 10–60 MW although proposed solar PV power stations will have a capacity of 150 MW or more.600 MW. Germany installed a record 3. PV systems could be generating approximately 1. This means that. and 5. in contrast. World solar photovoltaic (PV) installations were 2.95 gigawatts in 2008.864 GW of electricity around the world. making it the world’s fastest-growing energy technology. enough solar power would be produced globally in twenty-five years’ time to satisfy the electricity needs of almost 14% of the world’s population. Germany installed a record 3.000 megawatts. distribution and installation.

'Sliver' cells. microcrystalline Si). including panels. In 2006 investors began offering free solar panel installation in return for a 25 year contract. to purchase electricity at a fixed price. Other developments include casting wafers instead of sawing. and electrical items.50 to USD 9. By early 2006. and continuous printing processes. mounts. amorphous Si.50. concentrator modules. Photovoltaic panels based on crystalline silicon modules are being partially replaced in the market by panels that employ thin-film solar cells (CdTe CIGS.Map of solar electricity potential in Europe. Germany is the current leader in solar production. which are rapidly growing and are expected to account for 31 percent of the global installed power by 2013. normally . or Power Purchase Agreement. the cost and price is expected to drop in the years to come. Due to economies of scale solar panels get less costly as people use and buy more — as manufacturers increase production to meet demand. the average cost per installed watt for a residential sized system was about USD 7. inverters.

set at or below current electric rates. a San Jose based company. advances past this efficiency mark are being pursued in academia and R&D labs with efficiencies of 42% achieved at the University of Delaware in conjunction with DuPont by means of concentration of light The highest efficiencies achieved without concentration include Sharp Corporation at 35. funded by grants from the EPA and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District. Applications Power stations President Barack Obama speaks at the DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center. However.7% also using a triple layer design). It is expected that by 2009 over 90% of commercial photovoltaics installed in the United States will be installed using a power purchase agreement. An innovative financing arrangement in Berkeley. However. A March 2010 experimental demonstration of a design by a Caltech group which has an absorption efficiency of 85% in sunlight and 95% at certain wavelengths (it is claimed to have near perfect quantum efficiency). Sunpower's cells have a conversion ratio of 24. to be repaid via an additional tax assessment on the property which remains in place for 20 years.2%. This allows installation of the solar system at "relatively little up-front cost to the property owner. lends money to a homeowner for solar system. . absorption efficiency should not be confused with the sunlight-to-electricity conversion efficiency.8% using a proprietary triple-junction manufacturing technology in 2009. California. and Boeing Spectrolab (40." The current market leader in solar panel efficiency (measured by energy conversion ratio) is SunPower. well above the market average of 12–18%.

Olmedilla Photovoltaic Park (Spain. 53 MW) and the Puertollano Photovoltaic Park (Spain. the project would utilize thin-film PV panels designed and manufactured by OptiSolar in Hayward and Sacramento.17 October Power Plant 2010 Rovigo Completed Photovoltaic Italy 70 November Power Plant 2010 Olmedilla Completed Photovoltaic Spain 60 85 0. and be fully operational by 2013. 80 MW). . Sarnia Photovoltaic Power Plant (Canada. 50 MW).100 gigawatt-hours (GW·h) annually of renewable energy. Larger power stations are under construction.11 in 2009 Park Topaz Solar Farm is a proposed 550 MW solar photovoltaic power plant which is to be built northwest of California Valley in the US at a cost of over $1 billion. Built on 9.7 MW). High Plains Ranch is a proposed 250 MW solar photovoltaic power plant which is to be built by SunPower in the Carrizo Plain. The project would deliver approximately 1. 80. Rovigo Photovoltaic Power Plant (Italy.7 phase II Solar Park and III 2010 Sarnia Completed Photovoltaic Canada 80 120 0. Finsterwalde Germany 80. the largest photovoltaic (PV) power plants in the world are the Finsterwalde Solar Park (Germany. 70 MW). begin power delivery in 2011. 54 MW). some proposed will have a capacity of 150 MW or more. World's largest photovoltaic power stations (50 MW or larger) Nominal Production PV power Capacity Country Power (Annual Notes station factor (MWp) GW·h) Phase I completed 2009. the Lieberose Photovoltaic Park (Germany. northwest of California Valley.16 September Park 2008 Strasskirchen Germany 54 57 0.As of November 2010.12 Solar Park Lieberose Completed 53 Photovoltaic Germany 53 0. 60 MW). the Strasskirchen Solar Park (Germany. The project is expected to begin construction in 2010.5 square miles (25 km2) of ranchland.

000 MW of solar PV operating in Germany was installed on rooftops. particularly where fuel. usually mounted on top of the existing roof structure or on the existing walls. Roof tiles with integrated PV cells are also common. Typically. an array can be located separately from the building but connected by cable to supply power for the building. Photovoltaic solar panels on a house roof. In 2010. Alternatively. an array is incorporated into the roof or walls of a building. The power output of photovoltaic systems for installation in buildings is usually described in kilowatt-peak units (kWp). maintenance. Building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) are increasingly incorporated into new domestic and industrial buildings as a principal or ancillary source of electrical power.In buildings Photovoltaic arrays are often associated with buildings: either integrated into them. emissions or noise . In transport There are many applications of photovoltaics in transport either for motive power or as auxiliary power units. Arrays are most often retrofitted into existing buildings. mounted on them or mounted nearby on the ground. more than four-fifths of the 9.

Air . (In the outer solar system. Space PV on the International Space Station Solar energy is often used to supply power for satellites and spacecraft operating in the inner solar system due to its power/weight ratio.requirements preclude internal combustion engines or fuel cells. Due to the limited area available on each vehicle either speed or range or both are limited when used for motive power. where the sunlight is too weak. radioisotope thermal generators (RTGs) are used).

solar power would enable these to stay aloft for months. This is likely to be the first commercial use for photovoltaics in flight. o Solar Challenger .This plane flew 163 miles (262 km) from Paris France to England on solar power. Working prototype for Solar Impulse Project UAVs .This plane is currently (May 9) on a tour of Europe o HB-SIA. o Sunseeker II . becoming a much cheaper means of doing some tasks done today by satellites. Gossamer Penguin • • Manned solar planes o Gossamer Penguin. the first successful flight for 48h under constant power of a UAV was reported . Many demonstration solar planes have been built. some of the best known by AeroVironment.There is considerable military interest in unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). In September 2007.

o Helios .Derived from the Pathfinder-Plus.524 m). this solar cell & fuel cell powered UAV set a world record for flight at 96.863 feet (29. this UAV set the unofficial world record for longest duration unmanned flight at over 82 hours on 31 July 2008 Future projects o Sky sailor (aimed at Martian flight) o Solar Impulse (aimed at manned circumnavigation of the globe) o various solar airship projects e.This unmanned plane demonstrated that an airplane could stay aloft for an extended period of time fueled purely by solar power. o Zephyr .built by Qinetiq.• Pathfinder and Pathfinder-Plus . Lockheed Martin's "High Altitude Airship" o Road Nuna 3 PV powered car .g.

Audi A8. Many prototypes have been built for competitions such as the World Solar Challenge. however."Solar Taxi" Photovoltaic modules are used commercially as auxiliary power units on passenger cars in order to ventilate the car. Free Drive EV Solar Bug. On 9 June 2008. can be used to charge conventional electric vehicles. and numerous other electric vehicles. In May 2007 a partnership of Canadian companies led by Hymotion added PV cells to a Toyota Prius to extend the range. Aptera 2. the German and French Presidents announced a plan to offer a cedit of 6-8g/km of CO2 emissions for cars fitted with technologies "not yet taken into consideration during the standard measuring cycle of the emissions of a car". Vehicles such as the 2010 Prius. According to the website. SEV claims 20 miles per day from their combined 215W module mounted on the car roof and an additional 3kWh battery. as incorporated in the Fisker Karma. both concept and production. available as an option on the Chevy Volt. Electricity is stored using a nickel/salt battery. It is also possible to use solar panels to extend the range of a hybrid or electric car. This has given rise to speculation that photovoltaic panels might be widely adopted on autos in the near future Anecdotal reports suggest that the 'Zap Xebra' PV module option could extend the car's 40-mile (64 km) by 5 miles (8 km). A prototype car and trailer has been built Solar Taxi. on the hood and roof of "Destiny 2000" modifications of Pontiac Fieros. A stationary system such as a rooftop solar panel. . it is capable of 100 km/day using 6m2 of standard crystalline silicon cells. and Mazda 929 have had solar sunroof options for ventilation purposes. Italdesign Quaranta. The solar challenge cars can average 100 km/h for long distances. It is much more feasible to run an ultralight vehicle on solar energy than a standard car. For 2007 a new . The area of photovoltaic modules required to power a car with conventional design is too large to be carried onboard. reducing the temperature of the passenger compartment while it is parked in the sun.

The infrared radiation generated is converted to electricity by a low band gap PV cell (e. designed and built by the Vehicle Research Institute (VRI) at Western Washington University. A protoype TPV hybrid car was even built. Marine Tûranor PlanetSolar. none yet takes advantage of the huge power gain that water cooling would bring. (specifically thermophotovoltaic (TPV) technology) to provide motive power for a car. The Venturi AstroLab in 2006 was hailed as the world's first commercial electro-solar hybrid car due to be released in January 2008. It is also technically possible to use photovoltaic technology.g. The "Viking 29" was the World’s first thermophotovoltaic (TPV) powered automobile. Fuel is used to heat an emitter. Efficiency would need to be increased and cost decreased to make TPV competitive with fuel cells or internal combustion engines. GaSb). Curiously.Challenge class specified an upright seating position and smaller solar panels to create a class of vehicle which with little modification could be the basis for a practical proposition for sustainable transport. the world's largest solar-powered boat Various demonstration systems have been made. with a solar range of 18 km/day and a total range of 110 km it can be charged either from the sun or from AC mains. The winning car still achieved an average speed slightly in excess of 90 km/h (56 mph). .

2 metre wide catamaran yacht powered by 470 square metres of solar panels. improving productivity. 15. Direct feed to a DC grids avoids losses through DC to AC conversion. PVTRAIN PVTrain concluded that the most interest for PV in rail transport was on freight cars where on board electrical power would allow new functionality: • • • GPS or other positioning devices.000 tonne car carrier ship to be used by Toyota Motor Corporation. ABS brakes. Rail PV panels were tested as APUs on Italian rolling stock under EU project. which would raise the maximum velocity of freight cars to 160 km/h. n 2007. A few pilot plants have been built in the framework of the "Heliotram" project. Personal Rapid Transit . so as to improve its use in fleet management and efficiency. The 150kWp Geneva site injected 600V DC directly into the tram/trolleybus electricity network provided about 1% of the electricity used by the Geneva transport network at its opening in 1999. was unveiled. the Tûranor PlanetSolar. a video monitor and remote control system for cars with sliding doors. such as the tram depots in Hannover Leinhausen and Geneva (Bachet de Pesay) .Japan's biggest shipping line Nippon Yusen KK and Nippon Oil Corporation said solar panels capable of generating 40 kilowatts of electricity would be placed on top of a 60. so as to reduce the risk of robbery for valuable goods. DC grids are only to be found in electric powered transport: railways. In addition to on-vehicle solar panels. trams and trolleybuses. It is set to circumnavigate the Earth and is so far the largest solar-powered boat ever built. Electric locks. there is the possibility to use stationary panels to generate electricity specifically for use in transport. In 2010. a 30 metre long. PV powered boat Transatlantic 21 successfully crossed the Atlantic Ocean power only by solar electricity.

there is an increasing requirement to protect people against the noise emitted by trains and road vehicles. PV is rarely used to provide motive power in transport applications. Belgian rail operator Infrabel was near to completing the world's largest solar installation on a railway. A self-contained solar vehicle would have limited power and low utility. . PV has traditionally been used for electric power in space. a 4MWp installation on a sound barrier roof near the Peerdsbos natural park. In 2010. . but is being used increasingly to provide auxiliary power in boats and cars. Sound barriers For both road and rail transport in urban areas. The requirement to build the barrier can allocate the cost of the rigid packaging of a solar panel to the sound wall. Vertical or inclined walls are built by the side of the right of way to do this. between Schoten et Brasschaat . but a solar-charged vehicle would allow use of solar power for transportation. Solar-powered cars have been demonstrated. making the marginal cost of installing a solar sound barrier instead of a passive one lower.JPods PRT concept with photovoltaic panels above guideways Several Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) concepts incorporate photovoltaic panels.

emergency telephones. trash compactors. parking meters. PV was used frequently to power calculators and novelty devices. and remote guard posts & signals. Such applications include water pumps.Standalone devices Solar parking meter. . temporary traffic signs. making PV use less common. Improvements in integrated circuits and low power LCD displays make it possible to power such devices for several years between battery changes. solar powered remote fixed devices have seen increasing use recently in locations where significant connection cost makes grid power prohibitively expensive. Until a decade or so ago. In contrast.

The solar powered lamps were sold at about the cost of a few month's supply of kerosene. Little Inc. . Solar roadways A 45 mi (72 km) section of roadway in Idaho is being used to test the possibility of installing solar panels into the road surface. terrestrial PV systems aim to maximize the time they face the sun. The increase can be by as much as 20% in winter and by as much as 50% in summer. From a practical economic viewpoint. The idea was first proposed by Peter Glaser. These will be reduced as photovoltaic cell costs are reduced or alternatively efficiency increased. These are areas where the social costs and benefits offer an excellent case for going solar though the lack of profitability could relegate such endeavors to humanitarian goals.Rural electrification Developing countries where many villages are often more than five kilometers away from grid power have begun using photovoltaics. an angle equal to the latitude. the key issue for such satellites appears to be the launch cost. and interest has revived in first years of the 21st century. NASA conducted a long series of engineering and economic feasibility studies in the 1970s. Solar Power satellites Design studies of large solar power collection satellites have been conducted for decades. then of Arthur D. temperatures above room temperature reduce the performance of photovoltaics. In remote locations in India a rural lighting program has been providing solar powered LED lighting to replace kerosene lamps. Panels are often set to latitude tilt. Static mounted systems can be optimized by analysis of the Sun path. Additional considerations will include developing space based assembly techniques. Cuba is working to provide solar power for areas that are off grid. Solar trackers aim to achieve this by moving PV panels to follow the sun. Performance Temperature Generally. but they seem to be less a hurdle than the capital cost. Optimum Orientation of Solar Panels For best performance. but performance can be improved by adjusting the angle for summer or winter. as roads are generally unobstructed to the sun and represent about the percentage of land area needed to replace other energy sources with solar power.

much of the investment in a home-mounted system may be lost if the homeowner moves and the buyer puts less value on the system than the seller. and can eliminate the need for local battery power to provide for use in times of darkness. Grid-connected solar electricity can be used locally thus reducing transmission/distribution losses (transmission losses in the US were approximately 7. experimental high efficiency solar cells already have efficiencies of over 40% in case of concentrating photovoltaic cells and efficiencies are rapidly rising while mass-production costs are rapidly falling. solar electric generation has the highest power density (global mean of 170 W/m²) among renewable energies.Advantages The 89 petawatts of sunlight reaching the Earth's surface is plentiful – almost 6. Compared to fossil and nuclear energy sources. Solar electric generation is economically superior where grid connection or fuel transport is difficult. When grid-connected. Solar power is pollution-free during use. so there is considerable room for improvement. island communities. so after the initial capital cost of building any solar power plant. End-of-use recycling technologies are under development and policies are being produced that encourage recycling from producers. Disadvantages Photovoltaics are costly to install. . This can reduce grid loading. PV installations can operate for many years with little maintenance or intervention after their initial set-up. but requires newer electronic metering. Solar PV has been made more accessible to homeowners. Long-standing examples include satellites. Under the scheme. These features are enabled by net metering. remote locations and ocean vessels. Production end-wastes and emissions are manageable using existing pollution controls. operating costs are extremely low compared to existing power technologies. Solar electricity is seen to be expensive.000 times more than the 15 terawatts equivalent of average power consumed by humans. which may still be impractical for some users. costly or impossible. Additionally.2% in 1995). solar electric generation replaces some or all of the highest-cost electricity used during times of peak demand (in most climatic regions). Time-of-use net metering can be highly favorable. Nevertheless. very little research money has been invested in the development of solar cells. With the UK Feed-In Tariff for green solar energy. While the modules are often warranteed for upwards of 20 years.

homeowners can generate both free electricity, and a fee per kWh sold to the grid "Solar PV as a Domestic Investment Opportunity Solar electricity is not produced at night and is much reduced in cloudy conditions. Therefore, a storage or complementary power system is required. Solar electricity production depends on the limited power density of the location's insolation. Average daily output of a flat plate collector at latitude tilt in the contiguous US is 3–7 kilowatt·h/m² and on average lower in Europe. Solar cells produce DC which must be converted to AC (using a grid tie inverter) when used in existing distribution grids. This incurs an energy loss of 4–12%.

Chapter- 3

Solar Panel

A solar panel (photovoltaic module or photovoltaic panel) is a packaged interconnected assembly of solar cells, also known as photovoltaic cells. The solar panel can be used as a component of a larger photovoltaic system to generate and supply electricity in commercial and residential applications. Because a single solar panel can only produce a limited amount of power, many installations contain several panels. This is known as a photovoltaic array. A photovoltaic installation typically includes an array of solar panels, an inverter, batteries and interconnection wiring. Photovoltaic systems are used for either on- or off-grid applications, and on spacecraft.

An installation of solar panels in rural Mongolia

A solar panel, or photovoltaic module, is composed of individual PV cells. This crystalline-silicon panel has an aluminium frame and glass on the front.

A PV module on the ISS.

Theory and construction

PV cells connected together in a solar panel. The majority of modules use waferbased crystalline silicon cells or thin-film cells based on cadmium telluride or silicon. Solar panels use light energy (photons) from the sun to generate electricity through the photovoltaic effect. Crystalline silicon is a commonly used semiconductor. In order to use the cells in practical applications. The structural (load carrying) member of a module can either be the top layer (superstrate) or the back layer (substrate). they must be: • connected electrically to one another and to the rest of the system .

photovoltaic panels can produce electricity from a range of frequencies of light. Sunlight conversion rates (solar panel efficiencies) can vary from 5-18% in commercial production. Reverse currents are not only inefficient as they represent power losses. This enables the use of cells with a high cost per unit area (such as gallium arsenide) in a cost-effective way. This is especially important for wafer-based silicon cells which are brittle. and at night. but they can also lead to problematic heating of shaded cells. Hence much of the incident sunlight energy is wasted by solar panels. and they can give far higher efficiencies if illuminated with monochromatic light. based on thin-film cells. and for thin-film cells the transparent conductive oxide layer. Most solar panels are rigid. The p-n junctions of mono-crystalline silicon cells may have adequate reverse current characteristics that these are not necessary. protected from moisture. thus decreasing performance and lifetime. ultraviolet. wind and snow loads). which corrodes metal contacts and interconnections. Separate diodes may be needed to avoid reverse currents. Electrical connections are made in series to achieve a desired output voltage and/or in parallel to provide a desired amount of current source capability. These are typically categorized into either monocrystalline or multicrystalline modules. in case of partial or total shading. and perhaps produce power at night. Some recent solar panel designs include concentrators in which light is focused by lenses or mirrors onto an array of smaller cells. typically lower than the efficiencies of their cells in isolation. This has been projected to be capable of raising efficiency by 50%. but usually cannot cover the entire solar range (specifically.• • protected from mechanical damage during manufacture. Therefore another design concept is to split the light into different wavelength ranges and direct the beams onto different cells tuned to those ranges. The use of infrared photovoltaic cells has also been proposed to increase efficiencies. but installers try to provide good ventilation behind solar panels. Panels with conversion rates around 18% are in development incorporating innovations such as power generation on the front and back sides. Crystalline silicon modules Most solar modules are currently produced from silicon PV cells. Depending on construction. but semi-flexible ones are available. infrared and low or diffused light). transport. installation and use (in particular against hail impact. . Very few modules incorporate any design features to decrease temperature. Solar cells become less efficient at higher temperatures and so it desirable to minimize heat in the panels.

or CIGS (or variant). the cell and the module are manufactured in the same production line. So-called inverted metamorphic (IMM) multijunction solar cells made on compoundsemiconductor technology are just becoming commercialized in July 2008. the other base line equipment such as the battery. Flexible thin-film modules Flexible thin film cells and modules are created on the same production line by depositing the photoactive layer and other necessary layers on a flexible substrate. depending on the size of the service will be limited in the photovoltaic cell arena. The main cell technologies in this category are CdTe. polyester or polyimide film) then monolithic integration can be used. If the substrate is an insulator (e. They produce high-efficiency conversion at low cost.Thin-film modules Third generation solar cells are advanced thin-film cells. Commercial use. . and more complex parabolic reflectors and solar concentrators are becoming the dominant technology. inverter and voltage sensing transfer switch still need to be compacted and unitized for residential use. The substrate or superstrate is laminated with an encapsulant to a front or back sheet. a so called "monolithic integration". or a-Si. Amorphous silicon has a sunlight conversion rate of 6-12%. The only commercially available (in MW quantities) flexible module uses amorphous silicon triple junction (from Unisolar). The requirements for residential and commercial are different in that the residential needs are simple and can be packaged so that as technology at the solar cell progress. and the electrical connections are created in situ. The cells are assembled into modules by laminating them to a transparent colourless fluoropolymer on the front side (typically ETFE or FEP) and a polymer suitable for bonding to the final substrate on the other side. The University of Michigan's solar car that won the North American Solar challenge in July 2008 used IMM thin-film flexible solar cells. Rigid thin-film modules In rigid thin film modules. If it is a conductor then another technique for electrical connection must be used. or a-Si+uc-Si tandem. usually another sheet of glass.g. The cell is created on a glass substrate or superstrate.

Some of these solutions make use of Power Optimizers. IMS Research estimates that shipments of PV modules were far higher. is expected to experience a CAGR of over 35% to 2019. Module performance and lifetime Module performance is generally rated under Standard Test Conditions (STC) : irradiance of 1. to make sure the panel is compatible with a given system. kWp. this is a leftover term from the days when solar panels were used only to charge batteries. Nominal voltage refers to the voltage of the battery that the module is best suited to charge. temperature and load conditions change.5 GW of installations were completed and connected in 2009. VOC can be measured with a meter directly on an illuminated panel's terminals or on its disconnected cable. The actual voltage output of the panel changes as lighting. surpassing 32GW according to a major new study by IntertechPira.5 and module temperature at 25°C. Open circuit voltage or VOC is the maximum voltage that the panel can produce when not connected to an electrical circuit or system. cold. short circuit current (ISC.The global flexible and thin-film photovoltaic (PV) market. measured in W). and the measurement of performance data for monitoring and fault detection at module level. so there is never one specific voltage at which the panel operates. and module efficiency (%). open circuit voltage (VOC). measured in amperes). at a glance. solar spectrum of AM 1. Many crystalline silicon module manufacturers offer a warranty that guarantees electrical production for 10 years at 90% of rated power output and 25 years at 80% Production 7. despite caution in the overall PV industry. is the maximum output according to STC (not the maximum possible output). Electrical characteristics include nominal power (PMAX. This enables performing Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) for each module individually.000 W/m². a DC to DC converter technology developed to maximize the power harvest from solar photovoltaic systems. maximum power voltage (VMPP). Nominal voltage allows users. Module embedded electronics Several companies have begun embedding electronics into PV modules. The peak power rating. rain and hail for many years. Solar panels must withstand heat. maximum power current (IMPP). kWp. peak power. Shipments exceeded installations due to the record amount of modules shipped in the final quarter of the year to serve .

Kyocera Corporation 8. Yingli 5. . and large quantity buyers (self explanatory—and with access to the lowest prices). economies of scale. Balance-of-System (BoS) elements. this is. non-module cost of nonmicroinverter solar panels (as wiring. Sanyo Electric Price Average pricing information divides in three pricing categories: those buying small quantities (modules of all sizes in the kilowatt range annually). Sunpower Corporation 7.installations completed in the first quarter of 2010 in booming European markets such as Germany.50. Trina Solar 6. in turn. Fixed Racks Fixed racks hold panels in a single location as the sun moves across the sky. Over the long term—and only in the long-term—there is clearly a systematic reduction in the price of cells and modules. Also. France and Czech Republic Top ten Top ten suppliers (by power) in 2009 were: 1. Mounting Systems Trackers Solar Trackers increase the amount of energy produced per panel. First Solar 2. SolarWorld AG 10. mid-range buyers (typically up to 10 MWp annually). Canadian Solar 9. Italy. Following to RMI. standardizing technologies could encourage greater adoption of solar panels and. Sharp 4. Suntech 3. racking systems and various components) make up about half of the total costs of installations. which was 33 times lower than the cost in 1970 of $150. For example in 1998 it was estimated that the quantity cost per watt was about $4. converters.

the Gyy.The fixed rack sets the angle at which the panel is held. safety) ISO 9488 Solar energy—Vocabulary. EST-22V. Tilt angles equivalent to an installation's latitude is common. EST-22H. Solar lamp Solar notebook: IUNIKA makes the first Solar Powered Netbook. UL 1703 CE mark Electrical Safety Tester (EST) Series (EST-460. Devices with photovoltaic modules Electric devices that includes solar panels: • • • • • • Solar cell phone : Sharp announced that its first solar-powered cell phone would be released in summer. Standards Standards generally used in photovoltaic panels: • • • • • IEC 61215 (crystalline silicon performance). 61646 (thin film performance) and 61730 (all modules. Solar-pumped laser Solar vehicle Solar plane . EST-110). 2009.

SWH has been widely used in Israel. Australia. .Chapter. Japan.4 Solar Water Heating Roof-mounted close-coupled thermosiphon solar water heater. Solar water heating (SWH) systems comprise several innovations and many mature renewable energy technologies which have been accepted in most countries for many years. Austria and China and co.

Japan and India. In this case a gas or electric booster is normally used to heat the water. In a "pump-circulated" system the storage tank is ground or floor mounted and is below the level of the collectors. e. Designs suitable for hot climates can be much simpler and cheaper. in winter there sometimes may not be sufficient solar heat gain to deliver sufficient hot water. The global solar thermal market is dominated by China. a circulating pump moves water or heat transfer fluid between the tank and the collectors.g. to generate electricity . Overview Hot water heated by the sun is used in many ways. heats working fluid that is either pumped (active system) or driven by natural convection (passive system) through it. SWH systems are designed to deliver the optimum amount of hot water for most of the year. often fastened to a roof or a wall facing the sun. solar hot water also has industrial applications. The collector could be made of a simple glass topped insulated box with a flat solar absorber made of sheet metal attached to copper pipes and painted black. A solar hot water heater installed on a house in Belgium In order to heat water using solar energy. or a set of metal tubes surrounded by an evacuated (near vacuum) glass cylinder. However. a collector. While perhaps best known in a residential setting to provide hot domestic water.In a "close-coupled" SWH system the storage tank is horizontally mounted immediately above the solar collectors on the roof. Europe. and can be considered an appropriate technology for these places. No pumping is required as the hot water naturally rises into the tank through thermosiphon flow. In industrial cases a parabolic mirror can concentrate sunlight on .

Work in Israel . Therefore. but specially after the 1973 oil crisis. The tank is not pressurized and is open to atmospheric pressure. or the solar heat exchanger will replace the lower heating element and the upper element will remain in place to provide for any heating that solar cannot provide. Hence. When a solar water heating and hot-water central heating system are used in conjunction. History There are records of solar collectors in the United States dating back to before 1900. combined hot water and space heating systems (solar combisystems) are used to provide 15 to 25% of home heating energy. Although flat-plate collectors for solar water heating were used in Florida and Southern California in the 1920s there was a surge of interest in solar heating in North America after 1960. and because the optimum final temperature for the solar collector is lower than a typical immersion or combustion heater. but more commonly (at least in active systems) is a separate loop of fluid containing anti-freeze and a corrosion inhibitor which delivers heat to the tank through a heat exchanger (commonly a coil of copper tubing within the tank). This can include domestic non-electric concentrating solar thermal systems. comprising a black-painted tank mounted on a roof. Both typically include an auxiliary energy source (electric heating element or connection to a gas or fuel oil central heating system) that is activated when the water in the tank falls below a minimum temperature setting such as 55°C. However. flow reverses and the pipes are empty before freezing could occur. without the supplemental heat requirement of a solar water heating system being met with fossil fuels or electricity. Another lowermaintenance concept is the 'drain-back': no anti-freeze is required. USA enclosed a tank in a wooden box. The volume of this tank needs to be larger with solar heating systems in order to allow for bad weather. In 1896 Clarence Kemp of Baltimore.In many climates. The heat transfer fluid (HTF) for the absorber may be the hot water from the tank.the tube. Heat is stored in a hot water storage tank. thus creating the first 'batch water heater' as they are known today. hot water is always available. solar water heating for washing and bathing is often a better application than central heating because supply and demand are better matched. In many northern European countries. The combination of solar water heating and using the back-up heat from a wood stove chimney to heat water can enable a hot water system to work all year round in cooler climates. a solar hot water system can provide up to 85% of domestic hot water energy. As soon as the pump shuts off. the primary need for central heating is at night and in winter when solar gain is lower. instead all the piping is sloped to cause water to drain back to the tank. solar heat will either be concentrated in a pre-heating tank that feeds into the tank heated by the central heating. Residential solar thermal installations fall into two groups: passive (sometimes called "compact") and active (sometimes called "pumped") systems.

. solar water heaters were used by only 20% of the population by 1967. As a result. In the 1950s there was a fuel shortage in the new Israeli state.Passive (thermisiphon) solar water heaters on a rooftop in Jerusalem Flat plate solar systems were perfected and used on a very large scale in Israel. Following the energy crisis in the 1970s.m. and 6 a. Israel's first commercial manufacturer of solar water heating. and the government forbade heating water between 10 p.. Levi Yissar built the first prototype Israeli solar water heater and in 1953 he launched the NerYah Company. Israel is now the world leader in the use of solar energy per capita with 85% of the households today using solar thermal systems (3% of the primary national energy consumption). estimated to save the country two million barrels of oil a year. the highest per capita use of solar energy in the world. Despite the abundance of sunlight in Israel. in 1980 the Israeli Knesset passed a law requiring the installation of solar water heaters in all new homes (except high towers with insufficient roof area). .m.

The world saw a rapid growth of the use of solar warm water after 1960. Installation of solar water heating has become the norm in countries with an abundance of solar radiation. and Japan and Austria. and made adaptations as to meet the specifications set by the Banco Central Hipotecario (BCH) which prescribed that the system must be operational in cities like Bogotá where there are more than 200 days overcast. like the Mediterranean. . Spain became the first country in the world to require the installation of photovoltaic electricity generation in new buildings. and the second (after Israel) to require the installation of solar water heating systems in 2006. life expectancy and ease of use of these systems. Over 40.000 were installed. with systems being marketed also in Japan and Australia Technical innovation has improved performance. worldwide. directed by Paolo Lugari. Australia has a variety of incentives (national and state) and regulations (state) for solar thermal introduced starting with MRET in 1997 . and still function a quarter of a century later.Other countries New solar hot water installations during 2007. where there Colombia developed a local solar water heating industry thanks to the designs of Las Gaviotas. In 2005. The ultimate designs were so successful that Las Gaviotas offered in 1984 a 25 year warranty on any of its installations. the team of Gaviotas studied the best systems from Israel. Driven by a desire to reduce costs in social housing.

where basic models start at around 1.Solar water heating systems have become popular in China. much cheaper than in Western countries (around 80% cheaper for a given size of collector). La Réunion The type and complexity of a solar water heating system is mostly determined by: • • • The changes in ambient temperature during the day-night cycle.500 yuan (US$190). and that the popularity is due to the efficient evacuated tubes which allow the heaters to function even under gray skies and at temperatures well below freezing . The temperature of the water required from the system. Changes in ambient temperature and solar radiation between summer and winter. The minimum efficiency of the system is determined by the amount or temperature of hot water required during winter (when the largest amount of hot water is often required). Types of Solar Water Heating (SWH) systems A monobloc (thermosiphon) solar heater in Cirque de Mafate. It is said that at least 30 million Chinese households now have one. . Israel and Cyprus are the per capita leaders in the use of solar water heating systems with over 30%-40% of homes using them.

open-loop or closed-loop (via heat exchanger) Photovoltaic thermal hybrid solar collectors can be designed to produce both hot water and electricity. Passive systems rely on convection or heat pipes to circulate water or heating fluid in the system. in an extreme case). There are two main categories of solar water heating systems. wall mount The location of the storage tank in relation to the collector The method of heat transfer .The maximum efficiency of the system is determined by the need to prevent the water in the system from becoming too hot (to boil. while active systems use a pump. In addition. ground mount. there are a number of other system characteristics that distinguish different designs: • • • • • The type of collector used (see below) The location of the collector .roof mount. Passive systems An integrated collector storage (ICS) system .

the water in the collector can freeze and damage the panels. These are often plate type or evacuated tube collectors with built-in insulated tanks. When this fluid is heated. It is more efficient than an ICS as the collector heats a small(er) amount of water that constantly rises back to the tank. The unit uses convection (movement of hot water upward) to move the water from collector to tank. When the water in the collector becomes warm.A special type of passive system is the Integrated Collector Storage (ICS or Batch Heater) where the tank acts as both storage and solar collector. They are seldom pressurised and usually depend on gravity flow to deliver their water. efficient and less costly than plate and tube collectors but are only suitable in moderate climates with good sunshine. (B) Active system with pump and controller driven by a photovoltaic panel Direct ('open loop') passive systems use water from the main household water supply to circulate between the collector and the storage tank. They are often not suitable for cold climates since. Neither pumps nor electricity are used to enforce circulation. It can be used in areas with less sunshine than the ICS. convection causes it to flow to the tank where a passive heat exchanger transfers the heat of the HTF to the water in the tank. Batch heaters are basically thin rectilinear tanks with glass in front of it generally in or on house wall or roof. convection causes it to rise and flow towards the water storage tank. Direct systems: (A) Passive CHS system with tank above collector. An CHS also known as a compact system or monobloc has a tank for the heated water and a solar collector mounted on the same chassis. Typically these systems will function by natural convection or heat pipes to transfer the heat energy from the collector to the tank. Indirect ('closed loop') passive systems use a non-toxic antifreeze heat transfer fluid (HTF) in the collector. at night. . A step up from the ICS is the Convection Heat Storage unit (CHS or thermosiphon). They are simple.

There are no mechanical or electrical parts that can break or that require regular supervision or maintenance. Like their passive counterparts. active solar water heating systems come as two types: direct active systems pump water directly to the collector and back to the storage tank (direct collectors can contain conventional freeze-vulnerable . In these schematics the controller and pump are driven by mains electricity Active solar hot water systems employ a pump to circulate water or HTF between the collector and the storage tank.The attraction of passive solar water heating systems lies in their simplicity. Active systems Indirect active systems: (C) Indirect system with heat exchanger in tank. Consequently the maintenance of a passive system is simple and cheap. The efficiency of a passive system is often somewhat lower than that of an active system and overheating is largely avoided by the inherent design of a passive system. (D) Drainback system with drainback reservoir.

measurement of the energy produced. thus avoiding duplication of equipment. This increases the efficiency of the solar water heating system. a controller is required to turn the pump on and off. where freeze tolerant collectors or drain down approaches are not used. more expensive. Because the pump should only operate when the fluid in the collector is hotter than the water in the storage tank. or at night. In passive systems the storage tank must be located above the collector so that the thermosiphon effect can transport water or HTF from collector to tank.g. interaction with a backup electric or gasdriven water heater. indirect active systems which are usually made of metals pump heat transfer fluid (HTF). the water in the storage tank is likely to overheat. thus avoiding damage to the metal parts of the system. Reducing the risk of overheating. For direct active systems in cold weather. Reducing the risk of freezing. The use of an electronically controlled pump has several advantages: • The storage tank can be situated lower than the collectors. e. The use of a pump allows the storage tank to be located lower than the collector since the circulation of water or HTF is enforced by the pump. sophisticated safety functions. New active solar water heating systems can make use of an existing warm water storage tanks ("geysers").g. Because of the fact that active systems allow freedom in the location of the storage tank. more difficult to install and rely on either mains or PV sourced electricity to run the pump and controller. the heat of which is transferred to the water in the storage tank. the tank can be located where heat loss from the tank is reduced. A pumped system allows the storage tank to be located out of sight. or . thermostatic and time-clock control of auxiliary heat. inside the roof of a house. thus cooling the water in the storage tank. Consequently active systems are often more efficient than passive systems but are more complex. • • • • Active systems can tolerate higher water temperatures than would be the case in an equivalent passive system. the pump controller can pump hot water from the water storage tank through the collector in order to prevent the water in the collector from freezing. Active systems with intelligent controllers Modern active solar water systems have electronic controllers that permit a wide range of functionality such as full programmability. If no water from the solar hot water system is used (e. hot water circulation loops. Several pump controllers avoid overheating by activating the pump during the day at during times of low sunlight. This pumps hot water or HTF from the storage tank through the collector (which can be cool in low light levels).metal pipes or low pressure freeze-tolerant silicone rubber pipes). when water users are away).

remote display panels. In direct systems this "on differential" can be reduced to around 4C because there is no heat exchanger impediment.others. The pump starts when there is sufficient solar radiation available to heat the solar collector and to start the pump. A typical programmable differential controller The most popular pump controller is a differential controller that senses temperature differences between water leaving the solar collector and the water in the storage tank near the heat exchanger. Also the solar hot water can still be collected during a power outage. water flows through the collector only when the sun is shining. It shuts off later in the day when the available solar energy diminishes. and remote or local datalogging. The DC-pump and PV panel must be suitably matched to ensure proper performance. for instance during periods of small amounts of electricity from the PV panel during cloudy weather. which in turn drives the direct current (DC) pump. display of error messages or alarms. Several DC-pumps are intelligent and employ maximum power point (MPP) tracking to optimise pump rate. In this way. Some differential controllers . This ensures the water always gains heat from the collector when the pump operates and prevents the pump from cycling on and off too often. This "pump starting" irradiation varies from 4% to 10% of full sunlight. some active solar systems obtain energy to power the pump by a photovoltaic (PV) panel. Although the pumps of most active systems are driven by mains electricity. By allowing more "pump on" time. The PV panel converts sunlight into electricity. the controller turns the pump on when the water in the collector is about 8-10°C warmer than the water in the tank and it turns the pump off when the temperature difference approaches 0 °C. depending on the pump and its PV power supply. In a typical indirect configuration. The main environmental advantage of a PV-driven pump is that it eliminates the energy / carbon clawback or "parasitics" associated with using a solar thermal systems. The pump is operated by the sun and is completely independent from mains electricity. A PV powered solar controller is sometimes used to prevent the pump from running when there is sunlight to power the pump but the collector is still cooler than the water in storage. this improves performance at low light levels.

A bubble pump circulates the heat transfer fluid (HTF) between collector and storage tank using solar power and without any external energy source and is suitable for flat panel as well as vacuum tube systems. The HTF typically arrives at the heat exchanger at 70 °C and returns to the . Consequently the collector cannot be damaged by freezing or overheating. but revert to mains electricity when light is not available. The steam bubbles form a geyser pump. Active systems with a bubble pump The bubble separator of a bubble-pump system An active solar water heating system can be equipped with a bubble pump (also known as geyser pump) instead of an electric pump. This makes this type of system well-suited to colder climates. Active systems with drainback A drain-back system is an indirect active system where heat transfer fluid circulates through the collector. If the pump is switched off. being driven by a pump. The low /variable flow from PV powered pumps for domestic hot water only (no heating) is typically matched with a temperature maximising solar absorber of the serpentine type. This in conjunction with a stratified hot water tank design maximises a small quantity of hot water that reduces the need for the standby heating system to operate. the closed HTF circuit is under reduced pressure. causing an upward flow.use power from the PV panel when sunlight is available. The system is designed such that the bubbles are separated from the hot fluid and condensed at the highest point in the circuit. However the collector piping is not pressurised and includes an open drainback reservoir. This stategy has been found to maximise efficiency. which causes the liquid to boil at low temperature as it is heated by the sun. after which the fluid flows downward towards the heat exchanger caused by the difference in fluid levels. all the heat transfer fluid drains into the drainback reservoir and none remains in the collector. In a bubble pump system.

Overheat protection Particularly when no hot water has been used for some time. this is called drainback and in direct systems (where the heated water is used as the transfer fluid) it is called draindown. the water from the collector can reach very high temperatures in good sunshine. these can freeze solid without cracking. Many indirect systems use anti-freeze (e. Freeze protection Freeze protection measures prevent damage to the system due to the expansion of freezing transfer fluid. Designs which may boil the hot water store usually allow for relief of pressure and excess heat through a heat dump. This approach is common in climates where freezing temperatures do not occur often. Some systems drain the transfer fluid from the system when the pump stops.circulating pump at 50 °C. a simple and virtually fail-safe approach. 11 possible types of overheat control in solar thermal have been identified in the International Energy Agency's Task Group 39 on Polymeric materials in solar heating and cooling. In indirect systems (where the transfer fluid is separated from the heated water). This approach is simpler and more reliable than drainback and is common in climates where freezing temperatures occur often. When the water in the collector reaches a temperature near freezing. Almost all sealed and unvented solar circuits have pressure relief valves through which excessive water pressure or steam can be vented. Vented systems have a simpler safety feature already built in via the open vent.g. In both direct and indirect systems. Other direct systems use freeze tolerant solar collectors. such as during a power cut. . usually in the ratio of 60 to 40. Being non-metal. the collectors are manually drained when freezing is expected. automatic recirculation may be used for freeze protection. Some active systems deliberately cool the water in the storage tank by heat export: circulating hot water through the collector at times when there is little sunlight or at night (when solar energy does not heat the collector). Pumping typically starts at about 50°C and increases as the sun rises until equilibrium is reached depending on the efficiency of the heat exchanger. Heat export operates most effectively in systems which do not use basal heat exchangers to add heat to the water store (because cool water sinks below hot water). or if the pump fails to operate. the temperature of the water being heated and the strength of the sun. propylene glycol) in the heat transfer fluid. One European solar collector is being produced to this specification under the Solar Keymark and EN 12975 standards. In frost prone climates the HTF is water with propylene glycol anti-freeze added. Here the water channels of the collector are made of flexible polymers such as silicone rubber. In some direct systems. the controller turns the pump on for a few minutes to warm the collector with water from the tank.

due to heat loss from the hot object.A rough comparison of solar hot water systems Comparison of SWH systems ICS Active Active Bubble Characteristic Thermosyphon Drainback (Batch) direct indirect Pump Low profileunobtrusive Lightweight collector Survives freezing weather Low maintenance Simple: no ancillary control Retrofit potential to existing store Space saving: no extra storage tank Collectors used in modern domestic solar water heating systems Solar thermal collectors capture and retain heat from the sun and transfer this heat to a liquid. Heat loss is predominantly governed by the thermal gradient between the temperature of the collector surface and the ambient . The processes that result in this heat loss are conduction. convection and radiation . Heat is lost more rapidly if the temperature difference between a hot object and its environment is larger. This is actually a direct manifestation of the Second law of thermodynamics but we may term this the 'equilibrium effect'. Within the context of a solar collector. The efficiency of a solar thermal collector is directly related to heat losses from the collector surface (efficiency being defined as the proportion of heat energy that can be retained for a predefined period of time). Thermal insulation is used to slow down heat loss from a hot object to its environment. Two important physical principles govern the technology of solar thermal collectors: • • Any hot object ultimately returns to thermal equilibrium with its environment. convection and radiation are the most important sources of heat loss.

temperature. Conduction, convection as well as radiation occur more rapidly over large thermal gradients . We may term this the 'delta-t effect'. The most simple approach to solar heating of water is to simply mount a metal tank filled with water in a sunny place. The heat from the sun would then heat the metal tank and the water inside. Indeed, this was how the very first SWH systems worked more than a century ago. However, this setup would be inefficient due to an oversight of the equilibrium effect, above: once when the tank and water has started to be heated, the heat gained would be lost back into the environment, ultimately until the water in the tank would assume the ambient temperature. The challenge is therefore to limit the heat loss from the tank, thus delaying the time until thermal equilibrium is reached. ICS or batch collectors overcome the above problem by putting the water tank in a box that limits the loss of heat from the tank back into the environment . This is achieved by encasing the water tank in a glass-topped box that allows heat from the sun to reach the water tank . However, the other walls of the box are thermally insulated, reducing convection as well as radiation to the environment . In addition, the box can also have a reflective surface on the inside. This reflects heat lost from the tank back towards the tank. In a simple way one could consider an ICS solar water heater as a water tank that has been enclosed in a type of 'oven' that retains heat from the sun as well as heat of the water in the tank. Using a box does not eliminate heat loss from the tank to the environment, but it largely reduces this loss. There are many variations on this basic design, with some ICS collectors comprising several smaller water containers and even including evacuated glass tube technology . This is because ICS collectors have a characteristic that strongly limits the efficiency of the collector: a small surface-tovolume ratio . Since the amount of heat that a tank can absorb from the sun is largely dependent on the surface of the tank directly exposed to the sun, it follows that a small surface would limit the degree to which the water can be heated by the sun. Cylindrical objects such as the tank in an ICS collector inherently have a small surface-to-volume ratio and most modern collectors attempt to increase this ratio for efficient warming of the water in the tank.

Flat plate and evacuated tube collectors side-by-side. Flat plate collectors are an extension of the basic idea to place a collector in an 'oven'like box . Here, a pipe is connected to the water tank and the water is circulated through this pipe and back into the tank. The water tank is now outside the collector that only contains the pipes. Since the surface-to-volume ratio increases sharply as the diameter of a pipe decreases, most flat-plate collectors have pipes less than 1 cm in diameter. The efficiency of the heating process is therefore sharply increased. The design of a flat-plate collector therefore typically takes the shape of a flat box with a robust glass top oriented towards the sun, enclosing a network of piping. In many flat-plate collectors the metal surface of the pipe is increased with flat metal flanges or even a large, flat metal plate to which the pipes are connected . Since the water in a flat-plate collector usually reaches temperatures much higher than that of an ICS, the problem of radiation of heat back to the environment is very important, even though a box-like 'oven' is used. This is because the 'delta-t effect' is becoming important. Formed collectors are a degenerate modification of a flat-plate collector in that the piping of the collector is not enclosed in a box-like 'oven'. Consequently these types of collectors are much less efficient for domestic water heating. However, since water colder than the ambient temperature is heated, these collectors are efficient for that specific purpose. Evacuated tube collectors are a way in which heat loss to the environment , inherent in flat plates, has been reduced. Since heat loss due to convection cannot cross a vacuum, it forms an efficient isolation mechanism to keep heat inside the collector pipes. Since two flat sheets of glass are normally not strong enough to withstand a vacuum, the vacuum is rather created between two concentric tubes. Typically, the water piping in an evacuated tube collector is therefore surrounded by two concentric tubes of glass with a vacuum in between that admits heat from the sun (to heat the pipe) but which limits heat loss back to the environment. The inner tube is coated with a thermal absorbent.

Flat plate collectors are generally more efficient than evacuated tube collectors in full sunshine conditions. However, the energy output of flat plate collectors drops off rapidly in cloudy or cool conditions compared to the output of evacuated tube collectors that decrease less rapidly.

Heating of swimming pools
Both pool covering systems floating atop the water and separate solar thermal collectors may be used for pool heating. Pool covering systems, whether solid sheets or floating disks, act as solar collectors and provide pool heating benefits which, depending on climate, may either supplement the solar thermal collectors discussed below or make them unnecessary. Solar thermal collectors for nonpotable pool water use are often made of plastic. Pool water, mildly corrosive due to chlorine, is circulated through the panels using the existing pool filter or supplemental pump. In mild environments, unglazed plastic collectors are more efficient as a direct system. In cold or windy environments evacuated tubes or flat plates in an indirect configuration do not have pool water pumped through them, they are used in conjunction with a heat exchanger that transfers the heat to pool water. This causes less corrosion. A fairly simple differential temperature controller is used to direct the water to the panels or heat exchanger either by turning a valve or operating the pump. .Once the pool water has reached the required temperature, a diverter valve is used to return pool water directly to the pool without heating . Many systems are configured as drainback systems where the water drains into the pool when the water pump is switched off. The collector panels are usually mounted on a nearby roof, or ground-mounted on a tilted rack. Due to the low temperature difference between the air and the water, the panels are often formed collectors or unglazed flat plate collectors. A simple rule-of-thumb for the required panel area needed is 50% of the pool's surface area . This is for areas where pools are used in the summer season only, not year 'round. Adding solar collectors to a conventional outdoor pool, in a cold climate, can typically extend the pool's comfortable usage by some months or more if an insulating pool cover is also used . An active solar energy system analysis program may be used to optimize the solar pool heating system before it is built.

Economics, energy, environment, and system costs

These estimates are for heating water to 50 degrees C above ambient temperature.g. 3. Below is a table that gives a rough indication of the specifications and energy that could be expected from a solar water heating system involving some 2 m2 of absorber area of the collector. whereas the insolation can be much lower in temperate areas where the days are shorter in winter. 7 kW.2 kW. Certification information or figures calculated from those data are used.h per day.h per day. e.A laundromat in California with panels on the roof providing hot washing water. Even at the same latitude the average insolation can vary a great deal from location to location due to differences in local weather patterns and the amount of overcast.h/day) for a tropical and a temperate scenario. The bottom two rows give estimates for daily energy production (kW.g. demonstrating two evacuated tube and three flat plate solar water heating systems. Useful calculators for estimating insolation at a site can be found with the Joint Research Laboratory of the European Commission and the American National Renewable Energy Laboratory . e. . In tropical places the insolation can be relatively high. Energy production The amount of heat delivered by a solar water heating system depends primarily on the amount of heat delivered by the sun at a particular place (the insolation).

Insolation 6.3 4.1 9. Phoenix. The efficiency of evacuated tube collectors is somewhat lower than for flat plate collectors because the absorbers are narrower than the tubes and the tubes have space between them.85 2. Zurich.4 The figures are fairly similar between the above collectors. In the tropical scenario the equivalent heating would be by some 33 degrees C.61 0.h/m2/day (tropical) .96 Absorber size (m ) 0. Many thermosiphon systems are quite efficient and have comparable energy output to equivalent active systems. resulting in a significantly larger percentage of inactive overall collector area.85 2.98 1. take into account the absorber area of the collector because collectors with less absorber area yield less heat. Daily energy production (kWth.e.72 2.8 4.3 3. even within the 2 m2 range.h/day in a more tropical climate when using a collector with an absorber area of about 2m2 in size. the energy output scales linearly with the surface area of the absorbers. when comparing figures.e.0 11.2 8.h/m2/day (temperate) . Switzerland . The evac tube systems used below both have 20 tubes Flat Evac Flat plate Flat plate Evac tube Technology plate tube Indirect Indirect Direct Direct Thermosiphon Configuration active active active active 2 2. The efficiency of the collectors becomes lower if one demands water with a very high temperature.8 7. Therefore.2 kW. yielding some 4 kW.21 1.5 kW. In the temperate scenario this is sufficient to heat 200 litres of water by some 17 degrees C. USA 3.74 0.g.46 Maximum efficiency Energy production (kW.With most solar water heating systems.h) of five solar thermal systems.68 0.h/day in a temperate climate and some 8 kW.9 8. Some methods of comparison calculate the efficiency of evacuated tube collectors based on the actual absorber area and not on the 'roof area' of the system as has been done in the above table.97 Overall size (m ) 2 2.57 0.49 1. Specifications for many complete solar water heating systems and separate solar collectors can be found at Internet site of the SRCC .Insolation 5.9 3.87 2.98 1.h/day): . System cost .g.

6 kW.h per month (about 4.h Number of kW. It does not take into account annual maintenance costs. Costs and payback periods assuming a household electricity savings of 140 kW.h/month due to SWH (using 2010 data) Electricity System Effective Electricity Payback Country Currency Subsidy(%) savings/mo cost cost cost/kW. when the initial costs of a solar system are properly financed and compared with energy costs. to a level much higher than a comparable hot water heater of the conventional type. then in many cases the total monthly cost of solar heat can be less than other more conventional types of hot water heaters (also in conjunction with an existing hot water heater). The biggest single consideration is therefore the large initial financial outlay of solar water heating systems . However the table does give an indication of the total cost and the order of magnitude of the payback period. Thus. a proper analysis will consider that solar energy is free. In addition. which add to system complexity. In higher latitudes. can be quite expensive over time.In sunny. warm locations. an ICS (batch type) solar water heater can be extremely cost effective .h/day) due to SWH. The table assumes an energy savings of 140 kW. possibly requiring larger and/or dual-heating systems. When calculating the total cost to own and operate. thus greatly reducing the operating costs. where freeze protection is not necessary. At higher latitudes.9 alia . The calculation of long term cost and payback period for a household SWH system depends on a number of factors. solar heaters may be less effective due to lower solar energy.h period(y) nth Austr $Aus 5000 40 3000 0.18 25 9. annual tax rebates and installation costs. federal and local incentives can be significant. such as gas and electricity.h of electricity used per month by a household Annual tax rebates or subsidy for using renewable energy Annual maintenance cost of SWH system Savings in annual maintenenance of conventional (electric/gas/oil) water heating system The following table gives some idea of the cost and payback period to recover the costs. there are often additional design requirements for cold weather. whereas other energy sources. Some of these are: • • • • • • • • • Price of purchasing solar water heater (more complex systems are more expensive) Efficiency of SWH system purchased Installation cost State or government subsidy for installation of a solar water heater Price of electricity per kW. Offsetting this expense can take several years and the payback period is longer in temperate environments where the insolation is less intense . This has the effect of increasing the initial cost (but not the life-cycle cost) of a solar water heating system.

The payback period for photovoltaic systems is much longer .1 0. Operational carbon footprint (OCF) is also called carbon clawback ratio (CCR).9 Sout ZA Rand h Africa Unite UK d Pound Kingdom Unite US$ d States 4000 10 3600 0. In many cases the payback period for a SWH system is shortened if it supplies all or nearly all of the warm water requirements used by a household. here are some synonyms.4 19. Australia has instituted a system of Renewable Energy Credits. Solar leasing is now available in Spain for solar water heating systems from Pretasol with a typical system costing around 59 euros and rising to 99 euros per month for a system that would provide sufficient hot water for a typical family home of six persons.9 6. allowing users in those countries to need smaller systems than in temperate areas. Firstly. Operational Carbon / Energy Footprint and Life Cycle Assessment Unfortunately this topic can seem a bit jargon-laden.Belgi um Brazi l Euro Real 4000 2500 14000 50 0 15 2000 2500 11900 0. so to clarify.25 0. This expands an older system based only on rebates .0 7. Many SWH systems supply only a fraction of warm water needs and are augmented by gas or electric heating on a daily basis .9 14 35 126 11. thus extending the payback period of such a system. This is partly because the SWH technology is efficient in capturing irradiation. The payback period would be five years. . Operational energy footprint (OEF) is also called energy parasitics ratio (EPR) or coefficient of performance (CoP). even in the northern hemisphere countries where payback periods are often longer than 10 years. solar water heating is financially extremely efficient. This is evident from the payback period less than 10 years in most southern hemisphere countries.4 5000 30 3500 0.10 14 20. listed above. based on national renewable energy targets.11 15. Secondly.8 Two points are clear from the above table. This is partly because of good sunshine. the payback period is shorter in countries with a large amount of insolation and even in parts of the same country with more insolation.

The energy used during each of the above stages. There are several aspects to such an assessment. Now looking at a wider picture than just the operational environmental impacts. The carbon footprint of such household systems varies substantially. has typically only about 40% of the carbon intensity of mains electricity per unit of energy delivered. The CO2 emissions due to each of the above stages. Except where a high proportion of electricity is already generated by non-fossil fuel means.h/day and a pump running intermittently from mains electricity for a total of 6 hours during a 12-hour sunny day. However. Assuming a solar collector panel delivering 4 kW. Work is also taking place in a number of parts of the world on developing alternative non-electrical zero carbon pumping systems. The source of electricity in an active SWH system determines the extent to which a system contributes to atmospheric carbon during operation. In most systems the pumping cancels the energy savings by about 8% and the carbon savings of the solar by about 20% . Therefore the 3% or 8% energy clawback in a gas home referred to above could therefore be considered 8% to 20% carbon clawback. LCA takes into account the total environmental cost of acquisition of raw materials. recognised standards can be used to deliver robust and quantitative life cycle assessment (LCA). a very low figure compared to technologies such as heat pumps. Active solar thermal systems that use mains electricity to pump the fluid through the panels are called 'low carbon solar'. The table in the previous section as well as several other studies suggest that the cost of production is gained during the first 5–12 years of use of the . Financial assessment. However. This represents a zero operational carbon and energy footprint: a growing design goal for solar thermal systems. some new low power pumps will start operation with 1W and use a maximum of 20W. a variety of which are under development. manufacturing. natural gas. servicing and disposing of the equipment. using.Life cycle assessment is usually referred to as LCA. the potentially negative effect of such a pump can be reduced to about 3% of the total power produced. a common water heating fuel. transport. depending on whether electricity or other fuels such as natural gas are being displaced by the use of solar. These are generally based on thermal expansion and phase changes of liquids and gases. Each of these aspects may present different trends with respect to a specific SWH device. in many countries. including: • • • The financial costs and gains incurred during the life of the equipment. zero-carbon active solar thermal systems typically use a 5-30 W PV panel which faces in the same direction as the main solar heating panel and a small. low power diaphragm pump or centrifugal pump to circulate the water.

with about 35% of the energy going towards the manufacturing the tank. use and disposal contributing small parts towards this. The production of a test SWH system in Italy produced about 700 kg of CO2. As for identifying sectors where this information is likely to appear first.8 sqm aperture. less sunny climates. where a SWH system has about 20% of the impact of an electrical water heater and half of the emissions impact of a gas water heater. the life cycle emissions of a SWH system are also recovered fairly rapidly. depending on the insolation. Moving further north into colder. In terms of CO2 emissions. a large degree of the emissions-saving traits of a SWH system is dependent on the degree to which water heating by gas or electricity is used to supplement solar heating of water. with all the components of manufacture. a purely gas-driven system may be cheaper in terms of emissions than a solar system. the energy payback time of a solar water heating system in a UK climate is reported as only 2 years. . PV pumped. Analysing their lower impact retrofit solar water heating system. the yearly environmental load of an average European inhabitant) in Greece . In terms of energy. according to the same comparative study. This calculation assumes that the solar system produces about half of the hot water requirements of a household. retrofitted to an existing water Allen et al (qv) report a production CO2 impact of 337 kg. For comparison. which is around half the environmental impact reported in the Ardente et al (qv) study. However. environmental technology suppliers in the microgeneration and renewable energy technology arena are increasingly being pressed by consumers to report typical CoP and LCA figures for their products. The energy used in manufacturing is recovered within the first two to three years of use of the SWH system through heat captured by the equipment a this southern European study. freeze tolerant and of 2. the environmental transparency afforded by life cycle analysis allows consumers (of all products) to make increasingly well-informed product selection decisions. with some 30% towards the collector (thermosiphon flat plate in this case) (Tsiligiridis et al. In Italy . with cost efficiency increasing as the insolation does . some 60% of the materials of a SWH system goes into the tank. some 11 GJ of electricity are used in producing the equipment. the emissions cost was recovered within about two years of use of the equipment through the emissions saved by solar water heating. Using the Eco-indicator 99 points system as a yardstick (i. Maintenance was identified as an emissions-costly activity when the heat transfer fluid (Glycol-based) was periodically replaced. In Australia . . Where information based on established standards are available. with another 35% towards the collector and the main energy-related impact being emissions.). a solar electric (PV) installation took around 5 years to reach energy payback. This figure was derived from the studied solar water heating system being: direct.

many DIY solar enthusiasts are buying simple off-the-shelf solar DIY kits. using non-mains circulation. by eliminating antifreeze replacement visits. A larger reservoir decreases the daily fluctuations in hot water temperature. Considerations for specifying and installing a solar water heating (SWH) system • • Except in rare instances it will be inefficient to install a SWH system with no electrical or gas or other fuel backup. to generate hot water. Plans for solar water heating systems are available on the Internet. Electrical or other backup heating ensures a reliable supply of hot water and ensures control of legionella risks when heated to the base. Many SWH systems (e. The temperature stability of a system is dependent on the ratio of the volume of warm water used per day as a fraction of the size of the water reservoir/tank that stores the hot water. in cold climates. Their environmental impacts can be reduced further by sustainable materials sourcing. DIY solar water heating systems are usually much cheaper than commercial ones.In summary. people have begun building their own (small-scale) solar water heating systems from scratch or buying easy to install kits. and installation costs can sometimes be avoided as well. In some PV pumped systems. as in the developing world. If a large proportion of hot water in the reservoir is used each day. In such installations a low voltage PV powered controller. The DIY solar water heating systems are being used both in the developed world. and people have set about building them for their own domestic requirements. switches the variable speed pump. overnight display of temperatures is enabled by internal energy stores such as large supercapacitors. are becoming common in parts of Europe. . But even in a tropical environment there are rainy and cloudy days when the insolation is low and the temperature of the water in the tank increases very little on account of solar heating. thermosiphon systems) have an integrated electrical heater in the integrated tank. In particular the new freeze tolerant. many active solar systems incorporate a conventional "geyser". larger than three times the hot water daily usage. by reusing existing hot water stores and. a large fraction of the water in the reservoir needs to be heated. the energy and emissions cost of a SWH system forms a small part of the life cycle cost and can be recovered fairly rapidly during use of the equipment. Conversely. This brings about large fluctuations in water temperature every day. Rather than build DIY solar water heating systems from scratch. it pays to have a fairly large reservoir. zero-carbon PV active systems. Their simplicity enables them to be plumbed in quickly and safely without the need of a mains electrician.g. Since the amount of heating that needs to take place every day is proportional to hot water usage and not to the size of the reservoir. with risks of overheating or underheating. DIY solar water heating systems (DIY SWH) With an ever-rising do-it-yourself-community and their increasing environmental awareness.

as well as the storage tank (or "geyser") and the most important warm water outlets. and not only a small fraction of the needs. Not all installations require new replacement solar hot water stores. The installation of a SWH system needs to be complemented with efficient insulation of all the water pipes connecting the collector and the water storage tank. it pays to use a system that covers all or nearly all of the domestic hot water needs. This facilitates more rapid cost recovery. control by a PV powered solar controller may be required.for example when there is enough light to drive the pump but while the collector is still cold. roof mounted sun facing collectors tend to outperform wall mounted collectors in terms of total energy output. This is because the price of a system is not linearly proportional to the size of the collector. as does the installation of a "geyser blanket" around the storage tank (if inside a roof). Particularly in locations further towards the poles than 45 degrees from the equator. so a square meter of collector is cheaper in a larger system. If this is the case. EN 1717: Protection against pollution of potable water in water installations and general requerements of devices to prevent pollution by backflow. EN 60335: Specification for safety of household and similar electrical appliances. (2-21) . General. especially in warmer climates. Standards Europe • • • EN 806: Specifications for installations inside buildings conveying water for human consumption. so if connected uncontrolled. Direct systems can be retrofitted to existing stores while indirect systems can be also sometimes be retrofitted using internal and external heat exchangers. the most efficient PV pumps are designed start to operate very slowly in very low light levels. On the zero or low carbon choice arena. Budgeting for a larger than required array of tubes therefore allows for the customisation of collector size to the needs of a particular application.• • • • • • Usually a large SWH system is more efficient economically than a small system. To eliminate the risk of hot water in the storage tank from being cooled slightly. In cold climates the installation of lagging and insulation is often performed even in the absence of a SWH system. The installation of lagging on at least two meters of pipe on the cold water inlet of the storage tank reduces heat loss. Existing stores may be large enough and in suitable condition. The modularity of an evacuated tube collector array allows the adjustment of the collector size by removing some tubes or their heat pipes. However it is total useful energy output which usually matters most to consumers. The installation of efficient lagging significantly reduces the heat loss from the hot water system. So arrays of sunny wall mounted steep collectors can sometimes produce more useful energy because there can be a small increase in winter gain at the expense of a large unused summer surplus. they may cause a small amount of unwanted circulation early in the morning .

Calculation method for heat demand.• UNE 94002:2005 Thermal solar systems for domestic hot water production. .

Switzerland. as different systems have tended to evolve in different countries. Those serving larger groups of properties district heating tend to be called central solar heating schemes. The remaining heat requirement is supplied by one or more auxiliary sources in order to maintain the heat supply once the solar heated water is exhausted. however. Solar combisystems may range in size from those installed in individual properties to those serving several in a block heating scheme. the annual space heating contribution can range from 10% to 60% or more in ultra-low energy Passivhaus type buildings. Since then commercialised packages have developed and are now generally used. the combisystem is called geosolar) and. conducted as part of IEA Task 14 in 1997. sometimes.000 m2) was much larger than in the other countries.over 20 were identified in the first international survey. In Germany. where the total collector area installed (900. . while in Sweden it was greater. Prior to the 1990s such systems tended to be custom-built for each property. A large number of different types of solar combisystems are produced .5 Solar Combisystem A solar combisystem provides both solar space heating and cooling as well as hot water from a common array of solar thermal collectors. Depending on the size of the combisystem installed. even up to 100% where a large seasonal thermal store or concentrating solar thermal heat is used.Chapter. 25% was for combisystem installations. Combisystems have also been installed in Canada since the mid 1980s. Some combisystems can incorporate solar thermal cooling in summer . During 2001. Such auxiliary heat sources may also use other renewable energy sources (when a geothermal heat pump is used. around 50% of all the domestic solar collectors installed in Austria. rechargeable batteries. usually backed up an auxiliary nonsolar heat source. Denmark and Norway were to supply combisystems. The systems on the market in a particular country may be more restricted.

secondly by the auxiliary heat (or cool) management category (the way in which nonsolar-thermal auxiliary heaters or coolers can be integrated into the system). S (serial mode) The space heating and cooling loop may be fed by the auxiliary heater. Heat and cool management by natural convection in storage tanks and built-in stratifiers as well as multiple tanks and/or multiple inlet/outlet pipes and/or three. Auxiliary heat and cool management categories Description The space heating loop is fed from a single store heated by both solar collectors and the auxiliary heater.or four-way valves to control flow through the inlet/outlet pipes. Heat and cool management using natural convection in storage tanks and/or between them to maintain stratification to a certain extent. Category A B C D B/D Category M (mixed mode) The space heating and cooling loop is fed alternatively by the solar collectors (or a solar water storage tank). CS. or there is no hydraulic connection between the solar heat and cool distribution and the auxiliary heat emissions. or by the auxiliary heater P (parallel mode) or cooler. .or four-way valves to control flow through the inlet/outlet pipes. or by both the solar collectors (or a solar water storage tank) and the auxiliary heater connected in series on the return line of the space heating loop. solar combisystems can be classified according to two main aspects. etc. Heat and cool management and stratification enhancement by means of multiple tanks and/or by multiple inlet/outlet pipes and/or by three. A solar combisystem may therefore be described as being of type B/DS. Maintaining stratification (the variation in water temperature from cooler at the foot of a tank to warmer at the top) is important so that the combisystem can supply hot or cool water and space heating and cooling water at different temperatures. Heat and cool storage categories Description No controlled storage device for space heating and cooling. Heat and cool management using natural convection in storage tanks and built-in stratification devices.Classification Following the work of IEA Task 26 (1998 to 2002). firstly by the heat (or cool) storage category (the way in which water is added to and drawn from the storage tank and its effect on stratification).

Tools for designing solar combisystems are available. Other commercial systems are available. Relationship to low energy building By the end of the 20th century solar hot water systems had been capable of meeting a significant portion of domestic hot water in many climate zones. mean that comparing design alternatives is not straightforward. For the individual house they may – or may not – have the storage tanks. Technologies Solar combisystems use similar technologies to those used for solar hot water and for regular central heating and underfloor heating. Instead they pump warm (or cool) water from the solar collectors through underfloor central heating pipes embedded in the concrete floor slab. Combisystem design The size and complexity of combisystems. Concentrating solar thermal technology may be used to make the collectors as small as possible. as well as those used in the auxiliary systems . however accurate predictions remain difficult. there are also large centralised systems serving a number of properties. The element unique to combisystems is the way that these technologies are combined. However it was only . Solar combisystems generally use underfloor heating and cooling . which can be used for basic system sizing) and the free SHWwin (Austria. and the number of options available. The floor slab is thickened to provide thermal mass and so that the heat and cool from the pipes (at the bottom of the slab) is released during the evening. Among the software and packages are CombiSun (released free by the Task 26 team . In contrast. systems may be configured in many different ways. in German ).microgeneration technologies or otherwise. varying from manufacturer's guidelines to nomograms (such as the one developed for IEA Task 26) to various computer simulation software of varying complexity and accuracy. The simplest combisystems – the Type A – have no "controlled storage device". controls and auxiliary heater and cooler integrated into a single prefabricated package. Useful approximations of performance can be produced relatively easily.Within these types. plus any stratifier technology that might be employed. and the control systems used to integrate them.

As heat demand reduces. which also increases the flexibility of its location. when compared to regular buildings where such effects are small in relation to the higher overall energy demand.with the development of reliable low-energy building techniques in the last decades of the century that extending such systems for space heating became realistic in temperate and colder climatic zones. room temperature and ventilation rates. . The volume occupied by the equipment also reduces. In common with other heating systems in low-energy buildings. system performance is more sensitive to the number of occupants. the overall size and cost of the system is reduced.especially when coupled with underfloor heating or wall heating. and the lower water temperatures typical of solar heating may be more readily used .

A collector is a device for converting the energy in solar radiation into a more usable or storable form. but overall.6 Solar Thermal Collector Solar Thermal Collector Dish A solar thermal collector is a solar collector designed to collect heat by absorbing sunlight. as well as location and orientation of the surface. it averages about 1.000 watts per square meter under clear skies with the surface directly perpendicular to the sun's rays. Types of solar collectors for heat . The solar energy striking the Earth's surface depends on weather conditions.Chapter. solar trough and solar towers or simpler installations such as solar air heat. The simpler collectors are typically used for supplemental space heating in residential and commercial buildings. but may also be used to denote more complex installations such as solar parabolic. The more complex collectors are generally used in solar power plants where solar heat is used to generate electricity by heating water to produce steam which drives a turbine connected to an electrical generator. The energy in sunlight is in the form of electromagnetic radiation from the infrared (long) to the ultraviolet (short) wavelengths. The term is applied to solar hot water panels.

Flat plate and evacuated tube solar collectors are used to collect heat for space heating or domestic hot water. the collector area (i.e. to which a matt black or selective coating is applied) often backed by a grid or coil of fluid tubing placed in an insulated casing with a glass or polycarbonate cover. the area absorbing the radiation).e.. (3) a heat-transport fluid (air. steel or copper. In these types the whole solar panel absorbs the light. In the non-concentrating type. They consist of (1) a dark flat-plate absorber of solar energy. and (4) a heat insulating backing. Most air heat fabricates and some water heat manufacturers have a completely flooded absorber consisting of two sheets of metal . This may be achieved directly or through a heat exchanger. The absorber consists of a thin absorber sheet (of thermally stable polymers.Solar collectors fall into two general categories: non-concentrating and concentrating. Flat plate collectors Flat plate thermal system for water heating deployed on a flat roof. are the most common type. Flat plate collectors. the area that intercepts the solar radiation) is the same as the absorber area (i. aluminum. In water heat panels. fluid is usually circulated through tubing to transfer heat from the absorber to an insulated water tank. antifreeze or water) to remove heat from the absorber. (2) a transparent cover that allows solar energy to pass through but reduces heat losses. developed by Hottel and Whillier in the 1950s.

can be more efficient. particularly at low light levels. Because the heat exchange area is greater they may be marginally more efficient than traditional absorbers. Increasingly polymers such as high temperate silicones (which melt at over 250C) are being used. Because the heat exchange area is greater they may be marginally more efficient than traditional absorbers. whether polymer or otherwise. so if they are water filled they must be carefully plumbed so they completely drain down using gravity before freezing is expected. The use of glycol lowers the water's heat carrying capacity . so that they may be plumbed directly into existing water tanks instead of needing to use heat exchangers which lower efficiency. Conventional metal collectors are vulnerable to damage from freezing. as stagnation temperatures can exceed the melting point of the polymer. For example. so such direct circulation continuous S that maximizes temperature but not total energy yield in variable flow systems. while the stagnation temperature of insulated thermal collectors can exceed 180°C if control strategies are not used. Rather than having the potable water flow directly through the collectors. a mixture of water and antifreeze such as propylene glycol (which is used in the food industry) is used as a heat exchange fluid to protect against freeze damage down to a locally determined risk temperature that depends on the proportion of propylene glycol in the mixture. the melting point of polypropylene is 160°C.traditional design with bottom pipe risers and top collection pipe. As an alternative to metal collectors. used in low pressure thermosyphon and pumped systems serpentine . Some early selectively coated polymer collectors suffered from overheating when insulated. used in compact solar domestic hot water only systems (no space heating role) completely flooded absorber consisting of two sheets of metal stamped to produce a circulation zone. Some non polypropylene polymer based glazed solar collectors are matt black coated rather than selectively coated to reduce the stagnation temperature to 150C or less. Many metal collectors are installed as part of a sealed heat exchanger system. new polymer flat plate collectors are now being produced in Europe. Silicone rubber pipes have been used for this purpose in UK since 1999. There are a number of absorber piping configurations: • • • harp .which the fluid passes between. temperatures need not be quite so high for the circulation system to be switched on. being flexible and therefore freeze-tolerant. so that they do not crack. For this reason polypropylene is not often used in glazed selectively coated solar collectors. Polymers. In areas where freezing is a possibility. or they may include metal plates in front of freeze-tolerant water channels made of silicone rubber. are able to contain plain water instead of antifreeze. freeze-tolerance (the capability to freeze repeatedly without cracking) can be delivered by the use of flexible polymers. By dispensing with a heat exchanger in these flat plate panels. These may be wholly polymer.

The manifold is wrapped in insulation and covered by a sheet metal or plastic case to protect it from the elements. especially in colder conditions. these collectors become less effective. Evacuated heat pipe tubes (EHPT's) are composed of multiple evacuated glass tubes each containing an absorber plate fused to a heat pipe. when it is warm outside). Used for pool heating it can work quite well when the desired output temperature is near the ambient temperature (that is. This advantage is largely lost in warmer climates. A pool or unglazed collector is a simple form of flat-plate collector without a transparent cover. Typically polypropylene or EPDM rubber or silicone rubber is used as an absorber. while the addition of an extra heat exchanger may lower system performance at low light levels. The vacuum that surrounds the outside of the tube greatly reduces convection and conduction heat loss to the outside.marginally. therefore achieving greater efficiency than flat-plate collectors. Evacuated tube collectors Evacuated tube collector Most (if not all) vacuum tube collectors use heat pipes for their core instead of passing liquid directly through them. The heat from the hot end of the heat pipes is transferred to the transfer fluid (water or an antifreeze mix—typically propylene glycol) of a domestic hot water or hydronic space heating system in a heat exchanger called a "manifold". for example commercial . Most flat plate collectors have a life expectancy of over 25 years. As the ambient temperature gets cooler. except in those cases where very hot water is desirable.

The high temperatures that can occur may require special system design to avoid or mitigate overheating conditions. Others (glass-glass) are made with a double layer of glass fused together at one or both ends with a vacuum between the layers (like a vacuum bottle or flask) with the absorber and heat pipe contained at normal atmospheric pressure. a different conclusion might be reached than if the areas of absorber were compared. Consequently.process water. An array of evacuated tubes on a roof has 1) open space between collector tubes and 2) (vacuum-filled) space occupied between the two concentric glass tubes of each collector tube. a square meter of roof area covered with evacuated tubes (collector gross area) is larger than the area comprising the actual absorbers (absorber plate area). Some of this can be related to the physical structure of evacuated tube collectors which have a discontinuous absorbance area. Glass-metal tubes allow more light to reach the absorber and protect the absorber and heat pipe (contained in the vacuum) from corrosion even if they are made from dissimilar materials. the way that the ISO 9806 standard specifies the way in which the efficiency of solar thermal collectors should be measured is ambiguous. though the lack of radiated heat from the tubes can also prevent effective shedding of accumulated snow. This makes it difficult for purchasers and engineers to make informed decisions. Unfortunately. Some evacuated tubes (glass-metal) are made with one layer of glass that fuses to the heat pipe at the upper end and encloses the heat pipe and absorber in the vacuum. Glass-glass tubes have a highly reliable vacuum seal but the two layers of glass reduce the light that reaches the absorber and there is some possibility that moisture will enter the non-evacuated area of the tube and cause absorber corrosion. . Comparisons of flat plate and evacuated tube collectors A long standing argument exists between protagonists of these two technologies. The gaps between the tubes may allow for snow to fall through the collector. power output is not given for thermal collectors as it is for PV panels. since these could be measured either in terms of gross area or in terms of absorber area. minimizing the loss of production in some snowy conditions. If evacuated tubes are compared with flat-plate collectors on the basis of area of roof occupied. In addition.


absorber 2. indicating a slow rate of heat collection. Q = insolation during the measurements. ThermoDynamics S42-P. A field trial illustrating the differences discussed in the figure on the left. controller and storage tank. The temperature of the flat plate collector fell significantly during the day (bottom purple line). the basic relationships between their efficiencies remain valid. Courtesy ITS-solar.e. each with a pump. above. absorber 3.1 m2. but started cycling again later in the day when irradiation increased. Secondly. Data obtained from SRCC certification documents on the Internet. Several variables were logged during a day with intermittent rain and cloud. to the right of the red marks on the graph).A comparison of the energy output (kW.h/day) of a flat plate collector (blue lines. Tm-Ta = temperature difference between water in the collector and the ambient temperature.8 m2) and an evacuated tube collector (green lines. Green line = solar irradiation. A flat plate collector and a similar-sized evacuated tube collector were installed adjacently on a roof. . SunMaxx 20EVT. the evac tube collector yields significantly more energy under cloudiness than the flat plate collector. as (Tm-Ta) increases the flat plate collector loses efficiency more rapidly than the evac tube collector. even though the output of both collectors drop off strongly under cloudy conditions (low insolation). The top maroon line indicates the temperature of the evac tube collector for which cycling of the pump is much slower and even stopping for some 30 minutes during the cool parts of the day (irradiation low). Although many factors obstruct the extrapolation from two collectors to two different technologies. Firstly. The temperature in the water storage tank of the evac tube system (dark blue graph) increased by 8 degrees C during the day while that of the flat plate system (light blue graph) only remained constant. This means the flat plate collector is less efficient in producing water higher than 25 degrees C above ambient (i.

evacuated tubes can therefore maintain their efficiency over a wide range of ambient temperatures and heating requirements. Tm-Ta) is much more efficiently performed by flat plate collectors. They can collect thermal radiation from the bottom in addition to the top. Although several European companies manufacture evacuated tube collectors. flat-plate collectors will generally be a more cost-effective solution than evacuated tubes. the efficient but costly evacuated tube collectors can have a net benefit in winter and also give real advantage in the summer months. The modularity of evacuated tubes can be advantages in terms of extendability and maintenance. They are well suited to cold ambient temperatures and work well in situations of consistently low sunshine. Several Chinese companies have long favorable track records of 15–30 years. Evacuated tube collectors have a lower absorber plate area to gross area ratio (typically 60-80% of gross area) compared to flat plates. There is no condensation or corrosion within the tubes.Flat-plate collectors usually lose more heat to the environment than evacuated tubes and this loss increases with temperature difference. So they are usually inappropriate choice of solar collector for high temperature commercial applications such as process steam production. heating of water by a medium to low amount (i. There is the question of vacuum leakage over their lifetime. which may allow them to be laid onto the roof without being tied down. On the other hand. Tubes can be replaced individually without shutting down the entire system. When employed in arrays. However. Besides efficiency. some low cost flat plate collectors can be more cost efficient than an evacuated tube collectors. There is no unambiguous evidence that the two collector technologies (flat-plate and evacuated tube) differ in long term reliability. Domestic hot water frequently falls into this medium category. Unglazed collectors may be suitable in tropical or subtropical environments if domestic hot water needs to be heated by less than 20°C.g.e. most evacuated tube systems are more efficient per square meter than equivalent flat plate systems. providing heat more consistently than flat plate collectors per square metre. In most climates. Flat panels have been . evacuated tubes deliver marginally more energy when the ambient temperature is low (e. EHPT's work as a thermal one-way valve due to their heat pipes.) Based on absorber plate area. This makes them suitable where roof space is limiting. for example if the vacuum in one particular tube diminishes. for example where the number of occupants of a building is higher than the number of square metres of suitable and available roof space. Glazed or unglazed flat collectors are the preferred devices for heating swimming pool water. when considered instead on a per square metre basis. the evacuated tube market is dominated by manufacturers in the East. For a given absorber area. A contour map can show which type is more effective (both thermal efficiency and energy/cost) for any geographic region. per installed square metre. during winter) or when the sky is overcast for long periods. This also gives them an inherent maximum operating temperature which may be considered a safety feature. (In early designs the absorber area only occupied about 50% of the collector panel. They have less aerodynamic drag. there are other differences. However this has changed as the technology has advanced to maximize the absorption area. In general. However even in areas without much sunshine and solar heat. the evacuated tube technology is younger and (especially for newer variants with sealed heat pipes) still need to prove equivalent lifetimes of equipment when compared to flat plates.

They are also used for pre-heating make-up air in commercial and industrial HVAC systems. Air typically passes along the front or back of the absorber plate while scrubbing heat directly from it. They fall into two categories: Glazed and Unglazed. Other properties. Air Unglazed. "transpired" air collector Solar Air Heat collectors heat air directly. The absorber plates in modern panels can have an absorptivity of more than 93%. They may be easier to clean. almost always for space heating. Glazed systems have a transparent top sheet as well as insulated side and back panels to minimize heat loss to ambient air. such as appearance and ease of installation are more subjective.around much longer. and are less expensive. . Heated air can then be distributed directly for applications such as space heating and drying or may be stored for later use.

Types of solar collectors for electricity generation Parabolic troughs. consist of an absorber plate which air passes across or through as it scrubs heat from the absorber. and economical solar technologies available. or transpired air systems. Payback for glazed solar air heating panels can be less than 9–15 years depending on the fuel being replaced. dishes and towers described in this section are used almost exclusively in solar power generating stations or for research purposes.Unglazed systems. dependable. These systems are typically used for pre-heating make-up air in commercial buildings. The conversion efficiency of a solar collector is expressed as eta0 or η0. These technologies are among the most efficient. .

A trough-shaped parabolic reflector is used to concentrate sunlight on an insulated tube (Dewar tube) or heat pipe. . placed at the focal point.Parabolic trough Parabolic trough This type of collector is generally used in solar power plants. containing coolant which transfers heat from the collectors to the boilers in the power station.

almost all of the incoming radiation will be reflected towards the focal point of the dish—most losses are due to imperfections in the parabolic shape and imperfect reflection. via one or more parabolic dishes—arranged in a similar fashion to a reflecting telescope focuses starlight. One is that the shape of a parabola is defined such that incoming rays which are parallel to the dish's axis will be reflected toward the focus.Parabolic dish Solar Parabolic dish It is the most powerful type of collector which concentrates sunlight at a single. sunny day. and you will see that this could be an important factor. or foggy. no matter where on the dish they arrive. Losses due to atmosphere between the dish and its focal point are minimal. or a dish antenna focuses radio waves. focal point. Compare this though with some other designs. The second key is that the light rays from the sun arriving at the Earth's surface are almost completely parallel. This geometry may be used in solar furnaces and solar power plants. So if dish can be aligned with its axis pointing at the sun. as the dish is generally designed specifically to be small enough that this factor is insignificant on a clear. and if the local weather is hazy. There are two key phenomena to understand in order to comprehend the design of a parabolic dish. it may reduce the efficiency of a parabolic dish significantly. .

Advantages • • • • Very high temperatures reached. For example illuminating buildings.In some power plant designs. Power tower Power Tower A power tower is a large tower surrounded by tracking mirrors called heliostats. a stirling engine coupled to a dynamo. . is placed at the focus of the dish. collected heat is transferred to a power station below. and converts it into electricity. which absorbs the heat of the incident solar radiation. High temperatures are suitable for electricity generation using conventional methods like steam turbine or some direct high temperature chemical reaction. Good efficiency. Concentrated light can be redirected to a suitable location via optical fiber cable. By concentrating sunlight current systems can get better efficiency than simple solar cells. A larger area can be covered by using relatively inexpensive mirrors rather than using expensive solar cells. These mirrors align themselves and focus sunlight on the receiver at the top of tower.

EN 12975: Thermal solar systems and components. Molten salts have been used to good effect. often by underground tank storage of heated fluids. Solar Cells are able to provide some output even if the sky becomes a little bit cloudy. Disadvantages • • Concentrating systems require sun tracking to maintain Sunlight focus at the collector. EN 12976: Thermal solar systems and components.• Heat storage for power production during cloudy and overnight conditions can be accomplished. Custom made systems. EN 12977: Thermal solar systems and components. Solar Keymark: Thermal solar systems and components. Inability to provide power in diffused light conditions. Solar collectors. Higher level EN 1297X series certification which includes factory visits. but power output from concentrating systems drop drastically in cloudy conditions as diffused light cannot be concentrated passively. Factory made systems. . Standards • • • • • ISO 9806: Test methods for solar collectors.

Many of the most advanced technologies to actively use solar energy are . or store heat for future use. Most solar-thermal collectors have fixed mounting. via small pumps or fans. Solar hot water systems. The solar collectors can be nonconcentrating or 'flat-plate'. heat. can have significantly higher solar savings fractions than passive solar technologies due to greatly enhanced heat transfer and transport. Active solar uses electrical or mechanical equipment. used to orient photovoltaic arrays or daylighting. Solar technology comparison Active solar-thermal systems.Chapter. but can have a higher performance if they track the path of the sun through the sky. Solar energy collection and utilization systems that do not use external energy. and are therefore classified under active solar technology. except those based on the thermosiphon. or air through solar collectors. may be driven by either passive or active technology.7 Active Solar Solar trackers may be driven by active or passive solar technology Active solar technologies are employed to convert solar energy into usable light. use pumps or fans to circulate water. to increase the usable heat in a system. or of various concentrating designs. cause air-movement for ventilation or cooling. such as pumps and fans. like a solar chimney. Solar trackers. are classified as passive solar technologies. an anti-freeze mixture.

air. use.Passive solar energy is a type of energy. Passive solar Solar panels are used in passive and active solar hot water systems Passive solar technologies are means of using sunlight for useful energy without use of active mechanical systems (as contrasted to active solar). Passive solar technologies include direct and indirect solar gain for space heating. A common example is a solarium on the equator-side of a building.photovoltaics. shutters. solar water heating systems based on the thermosiphon or geyser pump. Technologies that use a significant amount of conventional energy to power pumps or fans are active solar technologies. night insulation. use of thermal mass . cause air-movement for ventilating. or future use. which are the most effective means of promoting solar energy. and other devices that enhance solar energy collection. Some passive systems use a small amount of conventional energy to control dampers. or solar energy systems. Passive cooling is the use of the same design principles to reduce summer cooling requirements. and reduce undesirable heat transfer. Such technologies convert sunlight into usable heat (water. thermal mass). These are often remunerated through feed in tariffs. storage. with little use of other energy sources.

such as space and water heating. . over time. and historically have not proven to be practical or cost effective for widespread use.and phase-change materials for slowing indoor air temperature swings. to be better applications for passive use of solar energy. 'Lowgrade' energy needs. the solar chimney for enhancing natural ventilation. passive solar technologies include the solar furnace and solar forge. More widely. but these typically require some external energy for aligning their concentrating mirrors or receivers. solar cookers. have proven. and earth sheltering.

STE is different from photovoltaics. Greece. Solar thermal collectors are classified by the USA Energy Information Administration as low-. High temperature collectors concentrate sunlight using mirrors or lenses and are generally used for electric power production. or high-temperature collectors. which convert solar energy directly into electricity. Medium-temperature collectors are also usually flat plates but are used for heating water or air for residential and commercial use.Chapter. While only 600 .8 Solar Thermal Energy Solar thermal system for water heating in Santorini. Low temperature collectors are flat plates generally used to heat swimming pools. Solar thermal energy (STE) is a technology for harnessing solar energy for thermal energy (heat). medium-.

megawatts of solar thermal power is up and running worldwide in October 2009 according to Dr David Mills of Ausra.1 EJ) of the energy used in residential buildings. Thermal mass materials store solar energy during the day and release this energy during cooler periods. and ventilation MIT's Solar House #1 built in 1939 used seasonal thermal storage for year round heating. Common thermal mass materials include stone. thermal mass can passively maintain comfortable temperatures while reducing energy consumption. concrete.000. ventilation.000 square feet (1.000 m2) of solar thermal collectors produced in the United States in 2006.000 m2) were of the lowtemperature variety. Solar heating. As the chimney . The proportion and placement of thermal mass should consider several factors such as climate.75 EJ) of the energy used in commercial buildings and nearly half (10. cooling. Heating. A solar chimney (or thermal chimney) is a passive solar ventilation system composed of a hollow thermal mass connecting the interior and exterior of a building.000 square feet (2.000. although they can also be used for space heating. Low-temperature collectors are generally installed to heat swimming pools. another 400 megawatts is under construction and there are 14. Collectors can use air or water as the medium to transfer the heat to their destination. and shading conditions.500. Low-temperature collectors Of the 21. and water. daylighting. In the United States. heating. and ventilation technologies can be used to offset a portion of this energy. cooling. and air conditioning (HVAC) systems account for over 25 percent (4. When properly incorporated.000. 16.000 megawatts of the more serious concentrating solar thermal (CST) projects being developed.

Most glazed collectors are used in the residential sector. These systems have been in use since Roman times and remain common in the Middle East. Unglazed.warms. Glazed Solar Collectors are designed primarily for space heating and they recirculate building air through a solar air panel where the air is heated and then directed back into the building. The two main types of solar air panels are glazed and unglazed. These solar space heating systems require at least two penetrations into the building and only perform when the air in the solar collector is warmer than the building room temperature. "transpired" air collector . Solar space heating with solar air heat collectors is more popular in USA and Canada than heating with solar liquid collectors since most buildings already have a ventilation system for heating and cooling. the air inside is heated causing an updraft that pulls air through the building.

high performance.Unglazed Solar Collectors are primarily used to pre-heat make-up ventilation air in commercial. and solar mechanical processes. When cooling is a concern the covered bladder draws heat from the building's interior during the day and is uncovered at night to radiate heat to the cooler atmosphere. industrial and institutional buildings with a high ventilation load. sunlight stores heat in the thermal mass and warms the air channel causing circulation through vents at the top and bottom of the wall. . Auguste Mouchout pioneered solar cooling by making ice using a solar steam engine attached to a refrigeration device. The heated air is then drawn from behind the absorber plate into the building's ventilation system. they employ a painted perforated metal solar heat absorber that also serves as the exterior wall surface of the building. desiccant cycles. When heating is a concern the bladder is uncovered during the day allowing sunlight to warm the water bladder and store heat for evening use. Thermal mass. The Skytherm house in Atascadero. Heat conducts from the absorber surface to the thermal boundary layer of air 1 mm thick on the outside of the absorber and to air that passes behind the absorber. They turn building walls or sections of walls into low cost. California uses a prototype roof pond for heating and cooling. Solar roof ponds are unique solar heating and cooling systems developed by Harold Hay in the 1960s. "transpired solar panels". smart windows and shading methods can also be used to provide cooling. A Trombe wall is a passive solar heating and ventilation system consisting of an air channel sandwiched between a window and a sun-facing thermal mass. The leaves of deciduous trees provide natural shade during the summer while the bare limbs allow light and warmth into a building during the winter. During the ventilation cycle. unglazed solar collectors. Active solar cooling can be achieved via absorption refrigeration cycles. This system can control heat exchange between interior and exterior environments by covering and uncovering the bladder between night and day. Also called. During the heating cycle the Trombe wall radiates stored heat. A basic system consists of a roof-mounted water bladder with a movable insulating cover. The water content of trees will also help moderate local temperatures. The boundary layer of air is drawn into a nearby perforation before the heat can escape by convection to the outside air. In 1878.

Process heat Solar Evaporation Ponds in the Atacama Desert. Representatives include an 860 m² collector in Costa Rica used for drying coffee beans and a 1300 m² collector in Coimbatore. Evaporation ponds are shallow ponds that concentrate dissolved solids through evaporation. A food processing facility in Modesto. .3 GJ per year. The use of evaporation ponds to obtain salt from sea water is one of the oldest applications of solar energy. As of 2009. Altogether. over 1500 systems with a combined collector area of 300. India used for drying marigolds.000 m² collector area is expected to provide 4. UTCs can raise the incoming air temperature up to 22 °C and deliver outlet temperatures of 45-60 °C. evaporation ponds represent one of the largest commercial applications of solar energy in use today.000 m² had been installed worldwide. The 5. The short payback period of transpired collectors (3 to 12 years) make them a more cost-effective alternative to glazed collection systems. California uses parabolic troughs to produce steam used in the manufacturing process. Unglazed transpired collectors (UTC) are perforated sun-facing walls used for preheating ventilation air. Solar process heating systems are designed to provide large quantities of hot water or space heating for nonresidential buildings. Modern uses include concentrating brine solutions used in leach mining and removing dissolved solids from waste streams.

Medium-temperature collectors These collectors could be used to produce approximately 50% and more of the hot water needed for residential and commercial use in the United States. pleasing both the buyers and the sellers. the payback time for a typical household is four to nine years. drain back. With this incentive. Technologies in solar drying include ultra low cost pumped transpired plate air collectors based on black fabrics. This innovation reduces or even eliminates the occurrence of noflow high temperature stresses called stagnation which would otherwise reduce the life expectancy of collectors.6 hours in Northern areas. and fish. Labor for a simple open loop system in southern climates can take 3-5 hours for the installation and 4. Thermosiphon installation have negligible maintenance costs (costs rise if antifreeze and mains power are used for circulation) and in the US reduces a households' operating costs by $6 per person per month. Solar Drying Solar thermal energy can be very useful in drying wood for construction and wood fuels such as wood chips for combustion. a typical system costs $4000–$6000 retail ($1400 to $2200 wholesale for the materials) and 30% of the system qualifies for a federal tax credit + additional state credit exists in about half of the states. In the United States. Solar thermal energy is helpful in the process of drying products such as wood chips and other forms of biomass by raising the heat while allowing air to pass through and get rid of the moisture. A crew of one solar plumber and two assistants with minimal training can install a system per day. European and International standards are being reviewed to accommodate innovations in design and operation of medium temperature collectors. Cooking . Mediumtemperature installations can use any of several designs: common designs are pressurized glycol. grains. Operational innovations include "permanently wetted collector" operation. Solar water heating can reduce CO2 emissions of a family of four by 1 ton/year (if replacing natural gas) or 3 ton/year (if replacing electricity). Crop drying by solar means is environmentally friendly as well as cost effective while improving the quality. Northern system require more collector area and more complex plumbing to protect the collector form freezing. batch systems and newer low pressure freeze tolerant systems using polymer pipes containing water with photovoltaic pumping. depending on the state. Similar subsidies exist in parts of Europe. The less money it takes to make a product. Solar is also used for food products such as fruits. the less it can be sold for.

Concentrating solar cookers use reflectors to concentrate light on a cooking container. A basic box cooker consists of an insulated container with a transparent lid. drying and pasteurization. The Solar Kitchen in Auroville. Contrary to conventional tracking reflector/fixed receiver systems. reduces demand for fuel or firewood. Solar cookers use sunlight for cooking. These designs cook faster and at higher temperatures (up to 350 °C) but require direct light to function properly. India uses a unique concentrating technology known as the solar bowl. These cookers can be used effectively with partially overcast skies and will typically reach temperatures of 50–100 °C. Many other solar kitchens in India use another unique concentrating technology known as the Scheffler reflector. The most common reflector geometries are flat plate. the solar bowl uses a fixed spherical reflector with a receiver which tracks the focus of light as the Sun moves across the sky.000 daily meals.The Solar Bowl above the Solar Kitchen in Auroville. disc and parabolic trough type. This technology was first developed by Wolfgang Scheffler in . The simplest type of solar cooker is the box cooker first built by Horace de Saussure in 1767. Solar cooking offsets fuel costs. India concentrates sunlight on a movable receiver to produce steam for cooking. The solar bowl's receiver reaches temperature of 150 °C that is used to produce steam that helps cook 2. and improves air quality by reducing or removing a source of smoke.

the world's largest Scheffler reflector system in Abu Road.800 degrees Celsius. Solar energy heats up the water in the still. A Scheffler reflector is a parabolic dish that uses single axis tracking to follow the Sun's daily course.000 meals a day. These reflectors have a flexible reflective surface that is able to change its curvature to adjust to seasonal variations in the incident angle of sunlight. over 2000 large cookers of the Scheffler design had been built worldwide. The water then evaporates and condenses on the bottom of the covering glass. Distillation Solar stills can be used to make drinking water in areas that clean water is not common. Solar distillation is necessary in these situations to provide people with purified water. Built in 1999. Scheffler reflectors have the advantage of having a fixed focal point which improves the ease of cooking and are able to reach temperatures of 450-650 °C. Rajasthan India is capable of cooking up to 35.1986. . By early 2008. High-temperature collectors The solar furnace at Odeillo in the French Pyrenees-Orientales can reach temperatures up to 3.

have an efficiency up to 41%. Higher temperatures are problematic because different materials and techniques are needed. standard technology. One proposal for very high temperatures is to use liquid fluoride salts operating between 700 °C to 800 °C. then the CSP plant becomes a reliable power plant. because more watthours are stored per unit of fluid. To achieve this in solar thermal energy plants.Concentrated solar power plant using parabolic trough design. High temperatures also make heat storage more efficient. Since the CSP plant generates heat first of all. gas turbines can be more efficient. it can store the heat before conversion to electricity. Up to 600 °C. using multi-stage turbine systems to achieve 50% or more thermal efficiencies. reducing the environmental impacts of a power plant as well as its expense. . flat-plate collectors of the nonconcentrating type are generally used. As the temperature increases. Such temperatures are too low for efficient conversion to electricity. Reliability can further be improved by installing a back-up system that uses fossil energy. The back-up system can reuse most of the CSP plant. flat plate collectors will not reach temperatures much above 200 °C even when the heat transfer fluid is stagnant. different forms of conversion become practical. In this way. steam turbines. The efficiency of heat engines increases with the temperature of the heat source. If the CSP site has predictable solar radiation. which decreases the cost of the back-up system. storage of heat is much cheaper and more efficient than storage of electricity. The higher operating temperatures permit the plant to use higher-temperature dry heat exchangers for its thermal exhaust. solar radiation is concentrated by mirrors or lenses to obtain higher temperatures — a technique called Concentrated Solar Power (CSP). the CSP plant can produce electricity day and night. as for space heating. Where temperatures below about 95 °C are sufficient. Because of the relatively high heat losses through the glazing. reducing the plant's water use — critical in the deserts where large solar plants are practical. The practical effect of high efficiencies is to reduce the plant's collector size and total land use per unit power generated. With current technology. Above this.

An important way to decrease cost is the use of a simple design. Thus the trough design does not require tracking on a second axis. the trough tilts east to west so that the direct radiation remains focused on the receiver. The receiver may be enclosed in a glass vacuum chamber. However. since the light is simply concentrated elsewhere on the receiver. the obstacles for large deployment for CSP are cost. System designs During the day the sun has different positions. then the focus of the mirrors or lenses changes. If the mirrors or lenses do not move. still a large area must be covered with mirrors or lenses to obtain a significant amount of energy. A change of position of the sun parallel to the receiver does not require adjustment of the mirrors. land use and similar factors for the necessary connecting high tension lines. no pollution. The tracking system increases the cost and complexity. different designs can be distinguished in how they concentrate the light and track the position of the sun.With reliability. The trough is parabolic along one axis and linear in the orthogonal axis. seasonal changes in the in angle of sunlight parallel to the trough does not require adjustment of the mirrors. For change of the daily position of the sun perpendicular to the receiver. absorber or collector) running the length of the trough. aesthetics. The vacuum significantly reduces convective heat loss. Parabolic trough power plants use a curved. positioned at the focal point of the reflectors. Although only a small percentage of the desert is necessary to meet global electricity demand. . Therefore it seems unavoidable that there needs to be a tracking system that follows the position of the sun (for solar photovoltaic a solar tracker is only optional). Parabolic trough designs Sketch of a parabolic trough design. With this in mind. unused desert. and no fuel costs. mirrored trough which reflects the direct solar radiation onto a glass tube containing a fluid (also called a receiver.

Other CSP designs lack this kind of long experience and therefore it can currently be said that the parabolic trough design is the most thoroughly proven CSP technology. It is currently the largest operational solar system (both thermal and non-thermal). A newer plant is Nevada Solar One plant with a capacity of 64MW. Tracking the sun from East to West by rotation on one axis. Full-scale parabolic trough systems consist of many such troughs laid out in parallel over a large area of land. Spain uses the Parabolic Trough design which consists of long parallel rows of modular solar collectors. The Solar Energy Generating System (SEGS) is a collection of nine plants with a total capacity of 350MW. is circulated through the absorber pipes at temperatures up to 400 °C and generates live steam to drive the steam turbine generator of a conventional power block. the high precision reflector panels concentrate the solar radiation coming directly from the sun onto an absorber pipe located along the focal line of the collector. molten salt and pressurized steam. Andasol 1 in Gaudix.A fluid (also called heat transfer fluid) passes through the receiver and becomes very hot. It is called the SEGS system. Under . Common fluids are synthetic oil. The fluid containing the heat is transported to a heat engine where about a third of the heat is converted to electricity. A heat transfer medium. a synthetic oil like in car engines. Since 1985 a solar thermal system using this principle has been in full operation in California in the United States. Concentrating solar power systems are a fast growing source of sustainable energy.

construction are Andasol 1 and Andasol 2 in Spain with each site having a capacity of 50MW. that those plants have heat storage which requires a larger field of solar collectors relative to the size of the steam turbine-generator to store heat and send heat to the steam turbine at the same time. Finally. 553MW new capacity is proposed in Mojave Solar Park. Power tower designs . Heat storage enables better utilization of the steam turbine. due to the former plant's thermal energy storage system and larger solar field. California . Algeria. 25MW steam input for a gas power plant in Hassi R'mel. Note however. With day and some nighttime operation of the steam-turbine Andasol 1 at 50MW peak capacity produces more energy than Nevada Solar One at 64 MW peak capacity. some 40MW steam is used as input for a gas powered plant. California. Near Kuraymat in Egypt. 59MW hybrid plant with heat storage is proposed near Barstow. Furthermore.

Solar Two. . Flat mirrors focus the light on the top of the tower. The white surfaces below the receiver are used for calibrating the mirror positions.

there is less need to flatten the ground area. This process. maintaining 98% thermal efficiency. except it is fueled by clean and free solar energy.eSolar's 5 MW Sierra SunTower facility features arrays of heliostats (mirrors with suntracking motion) to concentrate sunlight on to a central receiver mounted at the top of a tower. The advantage of this design above the parabolic trough design is the higher temperature. The steam drives a standard turbine to generate electricity. In principle a power tower can be built on a hillside. Furthermore. Sierra SunTower is located in Lancaster. Thermal energy at higher temperatures can be converted to electricity more efficiently and can be more cheaply stored for later use. also known as the "Rankine cycle" is similar to a standard coal-fired power plant. A tower resides in the center of the heliostat field. Mirrors can be flat and plumbing is concentrated in the tower. The heliostats focus concentrated sunlight on a receiver which sits on top of the tower. California. . Power towers (also known as 'central tower' power plants or 'heliostat' power plants) capture and focus the sun's thermal energy with thousands of tracking mirrors (called heliostats) in roughly a two square mile field.000 °F (538 °C). The disadvantage is that each mirror must have its own dual-axis control. while in the parabolic trough design one axis can be shared for a large array of mirrors. Within the receiver the concentrated sunlight heats molten salt to over 1. and eventually pumped to a steam generator. The heated molten salt then flows into a thermal storage tank where it is stored.

The 150-megawatt solar energy project will be located 30 miles (48 km) northwest of the city of Blythe in eastern Riverside County. This allows for a high density of reflective material which enables the development . eSolar announced it had licensed its technology to two development partners. This project will generate more than 300. When completed. When completed. and the India-based ACME Group.. In June 2008. Tonopah Solar Energy's facility will supply approximately 480. LLC.SolarReserve.000 houses in the region. The Alcazar Solar Thermal Power Project will use molten salt as a coolant. In November 2009. eSolar. or enough electricity to power almost 70. Rocketdyne. which is exclusively licensed to SolarReserve by United Technologies Corporation (UTC).000 1 metersquare mirrors per 1 tower using optical sensors to adjust and calibrate the mirrors in real time. In December 2009. although these plants were designed by the Department of Energy (DOE). N. demonstrated the technology at the Solar One (1982–1986) and Solar Two (1995–1999) power tower plants in Southern California. Inc. United Technologies' subsidiary. The first was with Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) for the sale of electricity from SolarReserve's Rice Solar Energy Project. Developed and owned by SolarReserve's subsidiary. United Technologies has granted SolarReserve an exclusive worldwide license to develop such power plants.000 homes during peak electricity periods—and will use thermal energy storage for nighttime power generation. received the key environmental permit that is necessary for the construction of their 50 megawatt solar plant in Spain. SolarReserve announced two power contracts in the United States. Tonopah Solar Energy. Also. CA-based company founded by Idealab CEO Bill Gross with funding from Google.J. The plants were designed by United Technologies Corporation. SolarReserve and a Madrid-based renewable energy developer. ACME plans to start construction on its first eSolar power plant this year. in February 2009. and California Energy Commission.000 megawatt hours of electricity per year. uses this technology for the development of its concentrated solar thermal plants with storage. The second power contract was a 25-year power purchase agreement with NV Energy for the sale of electricity from SolarReserve's Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project.000 megawatt-hours annually of clean. CA-based solar developer. The target goal for the ACME Group was nearly double. and will build a total of 1 gigawatt over the next 10 years. Preneal. Nevada. reliable electricity—enough to power up to 68. Southern California Edison. LA Dept of Water and Power. a Santa Monica. the Princeton. eSolar's proprietary sun-tracking software coordinates the movement of 24. the project will be located near the town of Tonopah in Nye County. a Pasadena.000 megawatt hours annually. SolarReserve's facility will supply approximately 450. the companies announced plans to jointly build 500 megawatts of concentrating solar thermal plants throughout the United States.-based NRG Energy. In the deal with NRG. California. announced a power purchase agreement (PPA) with the utility Southern California Edison to produce 245 megawatts of power.

features more than 1. each having an area of 140 m². A cost/performance comparison between power tower and parabolic trough concentrators was made by the NREL which estimated that by 2020 electricity could be produced from power towers for 5. a 100MW solar power plant is planned with 4000 to 5000 heliostat mirrors. Dish designs .600 heliostats that track the sun and reflect light onto a 60 meterhigh tower. A 10MW power plant in Cloncurry. Australia (with purified graphite as heat storage located on the tower directly by the receiver). BrightSource is currently developing a number of solar power plants in Southern California. There is some hope that the development of cheap. the largest solar power commitment ever made by a utility. mass producible heliostat power plant components could bring this cost down. In June 2008. The capacity factor for power towers was estimated to be 72. The 15MW Solar Tres plant with heat storage is under construction in Spain. A working tower power plant is PS10 in Spain with a capacity of 11MW. generating superheated steam. In South Africa. The site. resulting in a land-to-power ratio of 4 acres (16.47 ₡/kWh and for 6.9% and 56. The concentrated energy is then used to heat a boiler atop the tower to 550 degrees Celsius.000 m2) per 1 megawatt. durable. located in the Rotem Industrial Park. with construction of the first plant planned to start in 2009. BrightSource Energy entered into a series of power purchase agreements with Pacific Gas and Electric Company in March 2008 for up to 900MW of electricity.21 ₡/kWh from parabolic troughs.2% for parabolic troughs.of modular concentrating solar thermal (CSP) power plants in 46 megawatt (MW) units on approximately π square mile parcels of land. BrightSource Energy dedicated its 4-6 MW Solar Energy Development Center (SEDC) in Israel's Negev Desert. Out of commission are the 10MW Solar One (later redeveloped and made into Solar Two) and the 2MW Themis plants.

parabolic mirrors are used instead of flat mirrors and tracking must be dualaxis. Stirling Energy Systems announced another agreement with San Diego Gas & Electric to provide between 300 and 900 megawatts of electricity. A dish system uses a large. Arizona. a centralized approach for this conversion is better than the dencentralized concept in the dish design. Higher temperatures leads to better conversion to electricity and the dish system is very efficient on this point. In 2005 Southern California Edison announced an agreement to purchase solar powered Stirling engines from Stirling Energy Systems over a twenty year period and in quantities (20.5-megawatt power plant ("Maricopa Solar") using Stirling technology in Peoria. Fresnel reflectors . Heat to electricity conversion requires moving parts and that results in maintenance. The advantage of a dish system is that it can achieve much higher temperatures due to the higher concentration of light (as in tower designs). Typically the dish is coupled with a Stirling engine in a Dish-Stirling System.000 units) sufficient to generate 500 megawatts of electricity. These create rotational kinetic energy that can be converted to electricity using an electric generator. Second. It focuses all the sunlight that strikes the dish up onto to a single point above the dish. The entire unit acts as a solar tracker. but also sometimes a steam engine is used. which requires a rigid frame and strong tracking system. Stirling Energy Systems and Tessera Solar commissioned the first demonstration 1. In January 2010. parabolic dish (similar in shape to satellite television dish). reflective. Furthermore. In general. where a receiver captures the heat and transforms it into a useful form. However. the (heavy) engine is part of the moving structure.A parabolic solar dish concentrating the sun's rays on the heating element of a Stirling engine. there are also some disadvantages.

so they are structurally simpler. Recent prototypes of these types of systems have been built in Australia (CLFR ) and by Solarmundo in Belgium. Subsequently. while still using the simple line-focus geometry with one axis for tracking. this can allow a denser packing of mirrors on available land area. based in Munich. narrow. A linear Fresnel reflector power plant uses a series of long. Solar Power Group GmbH (SPG). Light construction of tracking system due to separation from the receiver. with its pilot plant at Liège. was closed down after successful proof of concept of the Linear Fresnel technology. was founded by some Solarmundo team members. shallow-curvature (or even flat) mirrors to focus light onto one or more linear receivers positioned above the mirrors. The mirrors also do not need to support the receiver. This is similar to the trough design (and different from central towers and dishes with dual-axis). Germany. These systems aim to offer lower overall costs by sharing a receiver between several mirrors (as compared with trough and dish concepts). . On top of the receiver a small parabolic mirror can be attached for further focusing the light. The receiver is stationary and so fluid couplings are not required (as in troughs and dishes). The Solarmundo research and development project. When suitable aiming strategies are used (mirrors aimed at different receivers at different times of day). A Fresnel-based prototype with direct steam generation was built by SPG in conjunction with the German Aerospace Center (DLR ).Wind load is avoided by the low position of the mirrors.

a 177MW plant had been proposed near San Luis Obispo in California and would be built by Ausra. Spain. to build a 6. former Ausra subsidiary.G. A Multi-Tower Solar Array (MTSA) concept. An absorber tube is positioned in the focal line of the mirror field in which water is evaporated directly into saturated steam at 270 °C and at a pressure of 55 bar by the concentrated solar energy.Based on the Australian prototype. This will be the first commercial solar thermal power plant in Spain based on the Fresnel collector technology of the Solar Power Group. Beside a conventional power block. In May 2008. has also been developed. The steam is generated by concentrating direct solar irradiation onto a linear receiver which is 7.000m².& E . that uses a point-focus Fresnel reflector idea. The German company SK Energy ]) has plans to build several small 1-3 MW plants in Southern Europe (esp. in Spain) using Fresnel mirror and steam drive technology (Press Release ).40m above the ground. The solar thermal power plant is based on linear Fresnel collector technology and has an electrical capacity of 1. The project is located in Gotarrendura. The start of constructions is planned for 2009. But Ausra sold its planned California solar farm to First Solar. the Fresnel solar power plant PE 1 of the German company Novatec Biosol is in commercial operation in southern Spain . the German Solar Power Group GmbH and the Spanish Laer S.L. First Solar will not build the Carrizo project. There are plans for SHP Europe.5 MW combined cycle plant in Portugal. The planned size of the power plant will be 10 MW a solar thermal collector field with a fossil co-firing unit as backup system. Small capacity plants are an enormous economical challenge with conventional parabolic trough and drive design — few companies build such small projects. about 100 km northwest of Madrid. and the deal has resulted in the cancellation of Ausra’s contract to provide 177 megawatts to P. a small renewable energy pioneering village.4 MW. Since March 2009. PE 1 comprises a solar boiler with mirror surface of around 18. Linear Fresnel Reflector (LFR) and compact-LFR Technologies . but has not yet been prototyped. agreed the joint execution of a solar thermal power plant in central Spain.

Both these solutions increase costs. the reflector is composed of many low row segments. However. The compact linear Fresnel reflector (CLFR) offers an alternate solution to the LFR problem. Blocking and shading can be reduced by using absorber towers elevated higher or by increasing the absorber size. The LFR differs from that of the parabolic trough in that the absorber is fixed in space above the mirror field. The classic LFR has only one linear absorber on a single linear tower. This prohibits any option of the direction of orientation of a given reflector. one fundamental difficulty with the LFR technology is the avoidance of shading of incoming solar radiation and blocking of reflected solar radiation by adjacent reflectors. as larger ground usage is required. Also. Since this technology would be introduced in a large field. individual reflectors will have the option of directing reflected solar radiation to at least . which allows increased spacing between reflectors remote from the absorber. one can assume that there will be many linear absorbers in the system. which focus collectively on an elevated long tower receiver running parallel to the reflector rotational axis.Fresnel solar power plant PE 1 in southern Spain Rival single axis tracking technologies include the relatively new Linear Fresnel reflector (LFR) and compact-LFR (CLFR) technologies. This system offers a lower cost solution as the absorber row is shared among several rows of mirrors. Therefore. if the linear absorbers are close enough.

then a less rigid frame is required to withstand wind load. Fresnel lenses Prototypes of Fresnel lens concentrators have been produced for the collection of thermal energy by International Automated Systems. These reduced costs encourage the advancement of this technology. Studies of existing CLFR plants have been shown to deliver tracked beam to electricity efficiency of 19% on an annual basis as a preheater. and low maintenance. minimized parasitic pumping losses. distillation and other such uses. Furthermore. lighter and operate at lower thermal temperatures usually below 315 °C (600 °F). the heat transfer loop is separated from the reflector field. MicroCSP is used for community-sized power plants (1MW to 50MW). and when large amounts of hot water are needed. for industrial. snow and humid deployments. 'non-disruptive' solar concentrator technology using asymmetric Fresnel lenses that occupies minimal ground surface area and allows for large amounts of concentrated solar energy per concentrator is seen in the 'Desert Blooms' project. The use of glass-evacuated tubes ensures low radiative losses and is inexpensive. since patterns of alternative reflector inclination can be set up such that closely packed reflectors can be positioned without shading and blocking. CLFR power plants offer reduced costs in all elements of the solar array.two absorbers. large laundry facilities. Minimized structural costs are attributed to the use of flat or elastically curved glass reflectors instead of costly sagged glass reflectors are mounted close to the ground. such as resort swimming pools. No full-scale thermal systems using Fresnel lenses are known to be in operation. avoiding the cost of flexible high pressure lines required in trough systems. This additional factor gives potential for more densely packed arrays. if a material is chosen that has some flexibility. sterilization. . Also. A new concept of a lightweight. Features that enhance the cost effectiveness of this system compared to that of the parabolic trough technology include minimized structural costs. Minimized parasitic pumping losses are due to the use of water for the heat transfer fluid with passive direct boiling. Solar manufacturer Sopogy completed construction on a 1MW CSP plant at the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii. MicroCSP "MicroCSP" references solar thermal technologies in which concentrating solar power (CSP) collectors are based on the designs used in traditional Concentrating Solar Power systems found in the Mojave Desert but are smaller in collector size. These systems are designed for modular field or rooftop installation where they are easy to protect from high winds. water parks. The advantage of this design is that lenses are cheaper than mirrors. agricultural and manufacturing 'process heat' applications. although products incorporating Fresnel lenses in conjunction with photovoltaic cells are already available. though a prototype has yet to be made.

This allows the use of solar power for baseload generation as well as peak power generation. usually water. Fluid. Inside the vault. Rate of heat transfer is related to the conductive and convection medium as well as the temperature differences. Thermal storage mediums will be discussed in a heat storage section. Solar thermal heat is trapped using the greenhouse effect. heat storage. Heat insulation is vital in both heat transport tubing as well as the storage vault. and heat insulation. which in turn relates to energy loss. When water is heated. heat is the measure of the amount of thermal energy an object contains and is determined by the temperature. The collector fluid is circulated through the carrier pipes to the heat transfer vault. mass and specific heat of the object. Here. It prevents heat loss. Heat gain is the heat accumulated from the sun in the system. Heat and infrared radiation (IR) are produced when short wave radiation light hits the absorber plate. the utilization of the generator is higher which reduces cost. . the greenhouse effect in this case is the ability of a reflective surface to transmit short wave radiation and reflect long wave radiation. Heat transport refers to the activity in which heat from a solar collector is transported to the heat storage vault. and is withdrawn for power generation during hours lacking sunlight. in the absorber tubes collect the trapped heat and transfer it to a heat storage vault. with the potential of displacing both coal and natural gas fired power plants. Heat is transferred to a thermal storage medium in an insulated reservoir during hours with sunlight. kinetic energy is transferred by conduction to water molecules throughout the medium. heat transfer. heat transport. heat is transferred throughout the medium through convection. Heat is transferred either by conduction or convection. or decrease in the efficiency of the system. Bodies with large temperature differences transfer heat faster than bodies with lower temperature differences. which is then trapped inside the collector. Additionally.Heat exchange Heat in a solar thermal system is guided by five basic principles: heat gain. to provide heat exchange. Heat storage Heat storage allows a solar thermal plant to produce electricity at night and on overcast days. Solar thermal power plants use heat exchangers that are designed for constant working conditions. Heat is transferred from the absorber plates of the collector in the fluid by conduction. Heat storage enables solar thermal plants to produce electricity during hours without sunlight. The distribution of energy from the rising hot water to the sinking cold water contributes to the convection process. These molecules spread their thermal energy by conduction and occupy more space than the cold slow moving molecules above them.

molten salt is used in the chemical and metals industries as a heattransport fluid. concrete. The uniqueness of this solar system is in de-coupling the collection of solar energy from producing power. a variety of phase change materials. oil. air. Heat from the heliostats goes directly to the storage. Heat for energy production is drawn from the graphite. Thermal storage media include pressurized steam. commonly called saltpeter. Normally tanks are well insulated and can store energy for up to a week. and withdrawn for power generation at night. Graphite heat storage Direct The proposed power plant in Cloncurry Australia will store heat in purified graphite. it provides an efficient. The salt melts at 220 °C (430 °F) and is kept liquid at 290 °C (550 °F) in an insulated storage tank. its operating temperatures are compatible with today's high-pressure and high-temperature steam turbines. Storage is for one hour. In addition. The Andasol power plant in Spain is the first commercial solar thermal power plant to utilize molten salt for heat storage and nighttime generation. The steam condenses and flashes back to steam. but that has not been proven yet in an existing power plant. Steam accumulator The PS10 solar power tower stores heat in tanks as pressurized steam at 50 bar and 285 °C. low-cost medium in which to store thermal energy. This simplifies the design. so experience with molten-salt systems exists in non-solar settings. when pressure is lowered. including water. and sodium. New studies show that calcium nitrate could be included in the salts mixture to reduce costs and with technical benefits. and molten salts such as sodium and potassium nitrate. The molten salt is a mixture of 60 percent sodium nitrate and 40 percent potassium nitrate. It came online March 2009. Molten salt storage A variety of fluids have been tested to transport the sun's heat. As an example of their size.Heat is transferred to a thermal storage medium in an insulated reservoir during the day. tanks that provide enough thermal storage to power a 100-megawatt turbine for four hours would be about 9 m (30 ft) tall and 24 m (80 ft) in diameter. . Indirect Molten salt coolants are used to transfer heat from the reflectors to heat storage vaults. The plant has a power tower design. and it is non-flammable and nontoxic. The graphite is located on top of the tower. Molten salt is used in solar power tower systems because it is liquid at atmosphere pressure. but molten salt was selected as best. It is suggested that longer storage is possible. electricity can be generated in periods of inclement weather or even at night using the stored thermal energy in the hot salt tank.

to build a plant in the Amargosa Valley of Nevada which would require 20% of the water available in the area. A single solar dish-Stirling engine installed at Sandia National Laboratories National Solar Thermal Test Facility produces as much as 25 kW of electricity. Other designs require less water. . PCMs can be either organic or inorganic materials. The high mass and volumetric heat capacity of graphite provide an efficient storage medium. this results in a 90 percent reduction in water usage . and lack of thermal stability. Fresnel reflectors have an efficiency that is slightly lower (but this is compensated by the denser packing). Graphite is used as it has relatively low costs and compatibility with liquid fluoride salts. Solar parabolic trough plants have been built with efficiencies of about 20%. and chemical and thermal stability. The conflict is illustrated by plans of Solar Millennium.The heat from the salts are transferred to a secondary heat transfer fluid via a heat exchanger and then to the storage media. Some other projected plants by the same and other companies in the Mojave Desert of California may also be affected by difficulty in obtaining adequate and appropriate water rights. Compared to conventional wet-cooling. or alternatively. corrosion. the salts can be used to directly heat graphite. but exhibit disadvantages with undercooling. Advantages of organic PCMs include no corrosives. low thermal conductivity.25%. phase separation. California water law currently prohibits use of potable water for cooling. Using a similar heat transfer infrastructure. The greater phase-change enthalpy in inorganic PCMs make hydrate salts a strong candidate in the solar energy storage field. with a conversion efficiency of 31. Inorganics are advantageous with greater phase-change enthalpy. Conversion rates from solar energy to electrical energy Of all of these technologies the solar dish/stirling engine has the highest energy efficiency. The water is then returned to the boiler in a closed process which is environmentally friendly. low or no undercooling. Use of water A design which requires water for condensation or cooling may conflict with location of solar thermal plants in desert areas with good solar radiation but limited water resources. PCMs have the potential of providing a more efficient means of storage. The proposed Ivanpah Solar Power Facility in southeastern California will conserve scarce desert water by using air-cooling to convert the steam back into water. and flammability. a German company. Phase-change materials for storage Phase Change Material (PCMs) offer an alternate solution in energy storage. Disadvantages include low phase-change enthalpy.

500 m = 1. meaning that a 50MW capacity power plant will typically provide a yearly output of 50 MW × 24 hrs × 365 days × 20% = 87. So.95 km²) gross conversion efficiency comes out at 2. If the technology is proven. This number is not suitable for comparison.03 Australian dollar for the production of 1 kWh in a year. then it can also produce output after sunset. This is called the levelised energy cost. which is a function of tracking. It is planned to produce 30 million kWh a year for an investment of 31 million Australian dollars. Another example is Cloncurry solar power station in Australia. an interest rate of 7% should be possible. the investment per kWh a year production is 310 / 179 = 1. However. The first step in the calculation is to determine the investment for the production of 1 kWh in a year. it simply displaces the output. which can partially be explained by the higher radiation in Cloncurry over Spain. the fact sheet of the Andasol 1 project shows a total investment of 310 million euros for a production of 179 GWh a year.6% Furthermore. it does not give the price per kWh yet. both efficiency and the cost of construction and maintenance should be taken into account. because the capacity factor can differ. Levelised cost Since a solar power plant does not use any fuel. is about 20%.300×1.500 acres (18. The average capacity factor for a solar power plant.75% of the radiation that falls on its 4. Independent of the way of financing. efficiency does not directly relate to cost: on calculating total cost. Although the investment for one kWh year production is suitable for comparing the price of different solar power plants. or 87. if this is achieved in reality. Since 179 GWh is 179 million kWh. The 500-megawatt (MW) SCE/SES plant would extract about 2. For the 50 MW AndaSol Power Plant that is being built in Spain (total area of 1. In most cases the capacity is specified for a power plant (for instance Andasol 1 has a capacity of 50MW). If a solar power plant has heat storage. but that will not change the capacity factor. for a new technology investors want a much higher rate to compensate for the higher risk. there is always a linear relation between the investment per kWh production in a year and the price for 1 kWh (before . This has a significant negative effect on the price per kWh.2 km²).The gross conversion efficiencies (taking into account that the solar dishes or troughs occupy only a fraction of the total area of the power plant) are determined by net generating capacity over the solar energy that falls on the total area of the solar plant. Example. The investment per kwh cost for one year should not be confused with the cost per kwh over the complete lifetime of such a plant.6 GWh/yr.600 MWh/year.73 euro. This would be significantly cheaper than Andasol 1. The way of financing has a great influence on the final price. If the lifetime of the plant and the interest rate is known. shading and location. then the cost per kWh can be calculated. the cost would be 1. the cost consists mostly of capital cost with minor operational and maintenance cost.

different interest rate. the investment of Andasol 1 was 1. The Andasol 1 plant has a guaranteed feed-in tariff of 0. If a way of financing is assumed where the money is borrowed and repaid every year. The modular solar dish (but also solar photovoltaic and wind power) have the advantage that electricity production starts after first construction.10 per kWh starts to become competitive. can deliver peak load and does not cause pollution.06 has been claimed With some operational cost a simple target is 1 dollar (or lower) investment for 1 kWh production in a year. then the inflation rate can be added to the interest rate. after 25 years with 2% inflation. if the cost per kWh is raised with inflation. then the price per kWh also drops by 20%. then he is not compensated for inflation.65 results in a price of 0. divided by 11. For a lifetime of 25 years and an interest rate of 7%.73 euro per kWh.21 euro will have a value comparable with 0. 0. different lifetime expectation. the division factor is 11. then the levelized cost is 0. This increases the investment with the interest over the period that the plant is not active yet. in such way that the debt and interest decreases. then he is compensated and he can add 2% (a normal inflation rate) to his return.65.(1 + interest / 100) ^ -lifetime) / (interest / 100). If an investor puts his money on the bank for 7%.13 euro now. Finally. there is some gap between the first investment and the first production of electricity.adding operational and maintenance cost). If this number is fixed. Given the fact that solar thermal power is reliable. a price of US$0.16 euro per kWh. may lead to a significantly different number. For example.15 euro per kWh.21 euro for 25 years. if by enhancements of the technology the investments drop by 20%. . In other words. If one cent operation and maintenance cost is added. However. Although a price of US$0. different way of debt repayment. Other ways of financing. then the following formula can be used to calculate the division factor: (1 . If the cost per kWh may follow the inflation.

On the right: Space-based solar power systems convert sunlight to microwaves outside the atmosphere.9 Space-Based Solar Power On the left: Part of the solar energy is lost on its way through the atmosphere by the effects of reflection and absorption. .Chapter. and the downtime due to Earth's rotation. avoiding these losses. experienced by surface installations.

Timeline • 1968: Dr. during the hottest part of the day in summer.. a satellite-based solar panel can collect power 24 hours per day. For most of the year. installation of the collection satellites. The collecting satellite would convert solar energy into electrical energy. e. for use on Earth. or cold spells in winter). Dynamic solar thermal power systems on satellites are also being investigated.Space-based solar power (SBSP) (or historically space solar power. etc. The World Radiation Centre's 1985 standard extraterrestrial level for mean solar irradiance at one astronomical unit from the Sun is 1367 W/m2. Collection of solar energy in space for use on Earth introduces two new problems and can alleviate an existing one. if weather permits. contamination or corrosion. such as more rapid radiation damage or micrometeoroid impacts. potentially reducing costs and grid interconnect failures.g. whereas a terrestrial station can collect for at most 12 hours per day.000 km above the equator). SBSP differs from the usual method of solar power collection in that the solar panels used to collect the energy would reside on a satellite in orbit. is relatively inexpensive. A major interest in SBSP stems from the length of time the solar collection panels can be exposed to a consistently high amount of solar radiation. such as the blackouts of 1965 and 2003. dependence on weather conditions. Because at least one type of receiving antenna. and only during peak hours—irradiance under the best of conditions is quite reduced near sunset and sunrise. damage by wildlife or plant encroachment. the rectenna. many SBSP designs have proposed the use of microwave beams for wireless power transmission.g. rather than on Earth's surface. First. but then only for 6 months of the year. The integrated total terrestrial solar irradiance is 950 W/m2. In space. including wavelengths blocked by the atmosphere. Some problems normally associated with terrestrial solar power collection would be entirely avoided by such a design. it can be directed as needed to accommodate periods of high power use in particular locations (e. unless at the poles. As well. often referred to as a solar power satellite (SPS). and has a different radiation profile. Other problems will likely be encountered. for collection and conversion of sun's energy . Since wires extending from Earth's surface to an orbiting satellite are neither practical nor currently possible..SSP) is a system for the collection of solar power in space. The first requires upgrading and extension of existing solar panel technologies. and second transmitting energy from them to the surface for use. Since the beam can be steered. Peter Glaser introduced the idea of a large solar power satellite system with square miles of solar collectors in high geosynchronous orbit (GEO is an orbit 36. Extraterrestrial solar irradiance is thus 144% of the maximum terrestrial irradiance. collection of the Sun's energy is unaffected by the various obstructions which reduce efficiency or capacities of Earth surface solar power collection. powering a microwave emitter oriented toward a collector on the Earth's surface. one of the current problems of electricity use is long distance transmission from generating sites to usage sites. it may be possible to reduce the need for electricity transmission lines by sensible siting of receiving antennas.

Neville Marzwell of NASA stated.781.. 2000: John Mankins of NASA testified in the U.... identifying technical and programmatic risks. 1970s: DOE and NASA examined the Solar Power Satellite (SPS) concept extensively.S. 1998: Space Solar Power Concept Definition Study (CDS) identified credible commercially viable SSP concepts.S..647 for his method of transmitting power over long distances (e. gas or copper wires.into an electromagnetic microwave beam to transmit usable energy to large receiving antennas (rectennas) on Earth for distribution.. saying "Large-scale SSP is a very complex integrated system of systems that requires numerous significant advances in current technology and capabilities.. patent number 3. 2001: PowerSat Corporation founded by William Maness. A technology roadmap has been developed that lays out potential paths for achieving all needed advances — albeit over several decades...If you can concentrate the sun's rays through the use of large mirrors or lenses you get more for your money because most of the cost is in the PV arrays." • • • • • • • • • . pipes. House of Representatives. . from an SPS to the Earth's surface) using microwaves from a large (on the close order of one square kilometer) antenna on the satellite to a much larger one on the ground.g. now known as a rectenna.We offer an advantage... 1999: NASA's Space Solar Power Exploratory Research and Technology program begun. 1998: Japan's space agency starts a program for developing a Space Solar Power System (SSPS). We can send it to you like a cell phone call—where you want it and when you want it. in real time. . publishing the design and feasibility studies. "We now have the technology to convert the sun's energy at the rate of 42 to 56 percent.. There is a risk element but you can reduce it. Peter Glaser was granted U. You don't need cables. We have made tremendous progress. which continues to the present day.We believe that in 15 to 25 years we can lower that cost to 7 to 10 cents per kilowatt hour. • 1973: Dr. . You can put these small receivers in the desert or in the mountains away from populated areas. 2001: Dr.. 1994: The United States Air Force conducted the Advanced Photovoltaic Experiment using a satellite launched into low Earth orbit by a Pegasus rocket. 1995–1997: NASA conducted a “Fresh Look” study of space solar power (SSP) concepts and technologies.

The International Space Station may be the first test ground for this new idea. Inc. even though it is in a low-earth orbit. They hope to have the first prototype orbiting by 2030. Andrea Massa and Prof. They say they have developed a "rock-solid business platform" and should be able to provide space-based solar power within a decade. Giorgio Franceschetti will organize a Special Session on the "Analysis of Electromagnetic Wireless Systems for Solar Power Transmission" at the 2010 Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers International Symposium on Antennas and Propagation. starting in 2016. announced plans to provide commercial space-based solar power. Space Energy. PG&E spokesman Jonathan Marshall stated that "We've been very careful not to bear risk in this. which Solaren has plans to provide via SBSP. the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency announced plans to orbit solar power satellites that will transmit energy back to earth via microwaves. 2007: The US Pentagon's National Security Space Office (NSSO) issued a report on October 10. originally known as Satellite Solar Power System ("SSPS") was first described in November 1968 . 2009: American company Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) announced it is seeking regulatory approval for an agreement with Solaren to buy 200 MW of solar power.. 2007: In May 2007 a workshop was held in the USA at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to review the current state of the market and technology. • • • • • • • • History The SBSP concept. 2009: A new company from the US. 2010: Prof. and a mechanism to use the solar array to power ion thrusters to lift a power satellite from LEO to GEO. 2007 stating they intend to collect solar energy from space for use on Earth to help the United States' ongoing relationship with the Middle East and the battle for oil." 2009: PowerSat Corporation filed a patent application concerning ganging multiple power satellites to form a single coherent microwave beam. 2010: Europe's largest space company EADS Astrium plans to put a solarcollecting demo satellite in space. In 1973 Peter Glaser was granted U.S. patent number . 2009: Jaxa.• 2001: NASDA (Japan's national space agency) announced plans to perform additional research and prototyping by launching an experimental satellite with 10 kilowatts and 1 megawatt of power.

the SBSP concept has again become interesting. and emission implications. They include: • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • Resource Requirements (Critical Materials. economic. Several reports were published investigating the engineering feasibility of such an engineering project. Inc. In addition. due to increased energy demand. More recently. starting in 1997 with the . as a vice-president. Little. NASA signed a contract with ADL to lead four other companies in a broader study in 1974. Between 1978 and 1981 the US Congress authorized DOE and NASA to jointly investigate the concept. The Office of Technology Assessment concluded Too little is currently known about the technical.3.647 for his method of transmitting power over long distances (e.g. and Land) Financial/Management Scenarios Public Acceptance State and Local Regulations as Applied to Satellite Power System Microwave Receiving Antenna Facilities Student Participation Potential of Laser for SBSP Power Transmission International Agreements Centralization/Decentralization Mapping of Exclusion Areas For Rectenna Sites Economic and Demographic Issues Related to Deployment Some Questions and Answers Meteorological Effects on Laser Beam Propagation and Direct Solar Pumped Lasers Public Outreach Experiment Power Transmission and Reception Technical Summary and Assessment Space Transportation The project was not continued with the change in Administrations after the 1980 US Federal elections. and environmental aspects of SPS to make a sound decision whether to proceed with its development and deployment. increased energy costs. The study remains the most extensive performed to date. without further research an SPS demonstration or systems-engineering verification program would be a high-risk venture. They found that. while the concept had several major problems—chiefly the expense of putting the required materials in orbit and the lack of experience on projects of this scale in space. it showed enough promise to merit further investigation and research . Energy... now known as a rectenna. Glaser then worked at Arthur D. They organized the Satellite Power System Concept Development and Evaluation Program . from an SPS to the Earth's surface) using microwaves from a very large (up to one square kilometer) antenna on the satellite to a much larger one on the ground.781.

Construct technology development and demonstration roadmaps for critical Space Solar Power (SSP) elements. an absolute requirement of space solar power. Renewable energy is a compelling approach. both philosophically and in engineering terms. The program looked at both systems in sun-synchronous orbit and geosynchronous orbit.S. Evaluate studies of the general feasibility. . The environmental impact of those plants and their impact on world energy supplies and geopolitical relationships can be problematic. design. of course. In assessing "What has changed" since the DOE study. Some of SERT's conclusions include the following: • • • The increasing global energy demand is likely to continue for many decades resulting in new power plants of all sizes being built. Pete Worden claimed that space-based solar is about five orders of magnitude more expensive than solar power from the Arizona desert. It was to develop a solar power satellite (SPS) concept for a future gigawatt space power systems to provide electrical power by converting the Sun’s energy and beaming it to the Earth's surface.NASA "Fresh Look" . US National Space Policy now calls for NASA to make significant investments in technology (not a particular vehicle) to drive the costs of ETO [Earth to Orbit] transportation down dramatically. This is. A major factor in this five orders of magnitude is the cost of transporting materials to orbit. Dr. Dr. it proposed an inflatable photovoltaic gossamer structure with concentrator lenses or solar heat engines to convert sunlight into electricity. and requirements. leaving spacebased solar power with no business case for the foreseeable future. Formulate a preliminary plan of action for the U. Subject to further study. SERT In 1999 NASA's Space Solar Power Exploratory Research and Technology program (SERT) was initiated for the following purpose: • • • • • Perform design studies of selected flight demonstration concepts. However. this study asserts that Another important change has occurred at the US national policy level. Create conceptual designs of subsystems that make use of advanced SSP technologies to benefit future space or terrestrial applications. One might take the NASA "Fresh Look" study as encouraging because the main difficulty identified is driving down Earth to Orbit costs. It was also to provide a developmental path to solutions for current space power architectures. (working with international partners) to undertake an aggressive technology initiative. Worden referred to possible solutions as speculative solutions that would not be available for decades at the best.

The . and even then for a maximum of 75 minutes late at night when power demands are at their lowest. During Operation Iraqi Freedom. Solar power satellites should no longer be envisioned as requiring unimaginably large initial investments in fixed infrastructure before the emplacement of productive power plants can begin. Based on their Concept Definition Study. There is a significant military advantage to SBSP in that it would provide the option to have almost instantaneous sustained power nearly anywhere on the globe. Space solar power systems appear to possess many significant environmental advantages when compared to alternative approaches. Advantages The SBSP concept is attractive because space has several major advantages over the Earth's surface for the collection of solar power. SBSP would also be applicable on a global scale. This technology can be of value to relief efforts in disaster areas. and the massive security costs in protecting these convoys in a war zone.• • • • • • Many renewable energy sources are limited in their ability to affordably provide the base load power required for global industrial development and prosperity. but especially in undeveloped areas which are less capable of coping with them. Additionally. there is an estimate that fuel costs in some areas approached $20 per gallon. This characteristic of SBSP avoids the expense of storage facilities (dams. SBSP could step in at short notice to provide as much power as is necessary both for the relief effort and to provide continuity of energy until ground based transfer methods are restored. SBSP poses no such known potential threat. which pose problems everywhere. however. There is no air in space. unaffected by weather. oil storage tanks. an SPS would be illuminated over 99% of the time. such an SPS would be in Earth's shadow on only a few days at the spring and fall equinoxes. The economic viability of space solar power systems depends on many factors and the successful development of various new technologies (not least of which is the availability of much lower cost access to space than has been available). so the collecting surfaces would receive much more intense sunlight. coal dumps) necessary in many Earth-based power generation systems. In geostationary orbit. Nuclear power raises questions of proliferation and waste disposal. the same can be said of many other advanced power technologies options. SBSP would have fewer or none of the ecological (or political) consequences of fossil fuel systems. because of inherent land and water requirements. This is undoubtedly due to the cost of physically moving large quantities of fuel. space solar power concepts may be ready to reenter the discussion. It has been estimated that the average price of fuel for the US Army exceeds $5 per gallon. Space solar power may well emerge as a serious candidate among the options for meeting the energy demands of the 21st century.

for example via microwave or laser 3. for example via solar cells or a heat engine 2. With a mobile SBSP receiving station. it could also provide a military benefit in that the supply would inherently be much more secure than traditional energy delivery methods. for example via a microwave antenna (rectenna) The space-based portion will be in a freefall. . If a conflict forced a rapid change in the geographic location of Army personnel. If SBSP became an established source of power. a means of receiving power on earth. Design Space-based solar power essentially consists of three parts: 1. a means of transmitting power to earth. the Army could quickly be provided with megawatts of clean. the power from SBSP could simply be redirected by altering the position of the SBSP satellites. a means of collecting solar power in space. vacuum environment and will not need to support itself against gravity other than relatively weak tidal stresses.estimated costs given above do not include the high cost in the lives of American servicemen and women who are killed or injured during attacks on supply convoys. sustained energy. but will have to cope with space-based hazards such as micrometeors and solar storms. It needs no protection from terrestrial wind or weather. chances of an energy scarcity based conflict could be much reduced.

Wireless power transmission to the Earth Wireless power transmission was proposed early on as a means to transfer energy from collection to the Earth's surface. Ionization of biological materials doesn't begin until ultraviolet or higher frequencies. The power could be transmitted as either microwave or laser radiation at a variety of frequencies depending on system design. as material purity and processing issues during production affect performance. since they will be optimized for weight.Solar energy conversion (solar photons to DC current) Two basic methods of converting sunlight to electricity have been studied: photovoltaic (PV) conversion. Photovoltaic conversion uses semiconductor cells (e.g. Microwave power transmission William C. and solar dynamic (SD) conversion. They do not require the structural support required for terrestrial use. Between 1969 and 1975. Most analyses of solar power satellites have focused on photovoltaic conversion (commonly known as “solar cells”). silicon or gallium arsenide) to directly convert photons into electrical power via a quantum mechanical mechanism. thin-film approaches are less efficient (about 20% vs 41% for best in class in each case as of late 2009). and will be designed to be tolerant of the space radiation environment (some thin film silicon solar panels are highly insensitive to ionising radiation). during Walter Cronkite's CBS News program. Bill Brown was technical director of a JPL Raytheon program that beamed 30 kW of power over a distance of 1 mile at 84% efficiency. Whichever choice is made. but are much less expensive and generally lighter. so most radio frequencies would be feasible. Some new. where the considerable gravity and wind loading imposes structural requirements on terrestrial implementations. Photovoltaic cells are not perfect in practice. photovoltaic cells will likely be rather different from the glass-pane protected solar cell panels familiar to many in current terrestrial use. This established an upper limit for the frequency used. . but will not need to be encapsulated against corrosion from environmental exposure or biological deterioration. Microwave power transmission of tens of kilowatts has been well proven by existing tests at Goldstone in California (1975) and Grand Bassin on Reunion Island (1997).. In an SPS implementation. each has been progressively improved for some decades. the transmitting radiation would have to be non-ionizing to avoid potential disturbances either ecologically or biologically. as energy per photon (and consequently the ability to cause ionization) increases with frequency. a microwave-powered model helicopter that received all the power it needed for flight from a microwave beam. Brown demonstrated in 1964.

the chosen wavelength of the microwaves. and overall efficiency. . before reaching a space-based demonstration. a technology that has yet to be demonstrated even in the laboratory. between a mountain top in Maui and the main island of Hawaii (92 miles away). In the 1980s researchers at NASA worked on the potential use of lasers for space-tospace power beaming. His ideas were adapted to be more practical. microwave power transmission has been demonstrated. in conjunction with solar energy capture.300 miles. 35. The distance from Earth to geostationary orbit (22. but the cost of taking the concept to operational status was too high. Mankins. He proposed using diamond solar cells operating at six hundred degrees to convert ultraviolet laser light. which included the study of laser power beaming for supplying power to a lunar base. Technological challenges in terms of array layout. In 1989 it was suggested that power could also be usefully beamed by laser from Earth to space. as well as the associated theoretical limits are presently a subject of research. (Typically. Spacecraft sizing The size of a solar power satellite would be dominated by two factors: the size of the collecting apparatus (e. and a length that makes the rectenna appear circular from GEO (Geostationary Orbit). single radiation element design. and the size of the transmitting antenna. and certain laws of physics (specifically the Rayleigh Criterion or diffraction limit) will all be factors.) Smaller antennas would result in increased losses to diffraction/sidelobes. focusing primarily on the development of a solar-powered laser. In 1991 the SELENE project (SpacE Laser ENErgy) was begun.700 km). by a team under John C. panels and mirrors). as it is demonstrated by the upcoming Special Session on "Analysis of Electromagnetic Wireless Systems for Solar Power Transmission" to be held in the 2010 IEEE Symposium on Antennas and Propagation.g. 14 km at some North American latitudes. 10 km wide. For the desired (23 mW/cm²) microwave intensity these antennas could transfer between 5 and 10 gigawatts of power. In 1988 the use of an Earth-based laser to power an electric thruster for space propulsion was proposed by Grant Logan. and the official project was ended in 1993. The SELENE program was a two-year research effort. for best efficiency. the ground antenna (rectenna) should be elliptical. Laser power beaming experiments A large-scale demonstration of power beaming is a necessary step to the development of solar power satellites. the satellite antenna should be circular and about 1 kilometer in diameter or larger.More recently. It has been suggested that. Laser power beaming was envisioned by some at NASA as a stepping stone to further industrialization of space. with technical details worked out in 1989.

Earth-based infrastructure The Earth-based receiver antenna (or rectenna) is a critical part of the original SPS concept. In any case.According to some research. lower cost) and disadvantages (frequent changes in antenna geometries. It would probably consist of many short dipole antennas. Moon People such as David Criswell suggest that the moon is the optimum location for solar power stations. using in-situ resource utilization. almost certainly . It might be possible to deploy LEO systems sooner than GEO because the antenna development would take less time. connected via diodes. The main advantages of locating the solar power collector on the moon is that most of its mass could be constructed out of locally available lunar materials. significantly reducing the amount of mass and therefore the launch costs required compared to other space-based solar power stations. With a conventional microwave antenna. an SPS's structure will necessarily be large (perhaps kilometers across). There would be both advantages (shorter energy transmission path. the satellite would require between 50 and 100 square kilometers of collector area (if readily available ~14% efficient monocrystalline silicon solar cells were deployed). State of the art multi-junction solar cells with a maximum efficiency of 43% could reduce the necessary collector area by two thirds. but the cost and complexity is also considerably greater. Location GEO The main advantage of locating a space power station in geostationary orbit is that the antenna geometry stays constant. and building structures of such size in orbit has never been attempted. Microwaves broadcast from the SPS will be received in the dipoles with about 85% efficiency . more power stations needed to receive power continuously). to collect and convert the target volume of power. and promote lunar solar power. increased debris collisions. LEO/MEO instead of GEO A collection of LEO (Low Earth Orbit) space power stations has been proposed as a precursor to GEO (Geostationary Orbit) space-based solar power. making it larger than most man-made structures on Earth. other space-based power stations have much longer start-up times before they are producing nearly continuous power. but it may take longer to prepare and launch the number of required satellites. Another advantage is that nearly continuous power transmission is immediately available as soon as the first space power station is placed in orbit. and so keeping the antennas lined up is simpler. the reception efficiency is still better.

heavier panels). . With an estimated serial launch cost for shuttle-based HLLVs of $500 million to $800 million. Rectennas would be multiple kilometers across. To give an idea of the scale of the problem. The large size of the transmitting and receiving antennas means that the minimum practical power level for an SPS will necessarily be high.45 GHz. This would be the equivalent of between 40 and 150 heavy-lift launch vehicle (HLLV) launches to send the material to low earth orbit. small SPS systems will be possible.000 metric tons. meaning 4. the direct cost of a new coal or nuclear power plant ranges from $1 billion to $1.5 billion dollars per GW (not including the full cost to the environment from CO2 emissions or storage of spent nuclear fuel. so such a rectenna would not be as expensive in terms of land use as might be supposed. For example. all of which would. or any significant mass reduction of any focusing mirrors) a 4 GW power station would weigh about 80. antenna. be launched from the Earth. another example is the Apollo missions to the Moon cost a . in current circumstances. Crops and farm animals may be raised underneath a rectenna. it is not possible to make a narrower beam by combining the beams of several smaller satellites. Power beaming from geostationary orbit by microwaves carries the difficulty that the required 'optical aperture' sizes are very large.000 metric tons for the solar panels for the same 4 GW capacity station. for a microwave beam at 2. These sizes can be somewhat decreased by using shorter wavelengths. but uneconomic. For comparison. where it would likely be converted into subassembly solar arrays. respectively). as the thin wires used for support and for the dipoles will only slightly reduce sunlight. Because of the thinned array curse. Very lightweight designs could likely achieve 1 kg/kW. which raises the possibility that high efficiency (but slower) engines could move SPS material from LEO to GEO at an acceptable cost. Reusable launch systems are predicted to provide lower launch costs to low Earth orbit (LEO). low weight panels) and $320 billion ('expensive' HLLV. Dealing with launch costs One problem for the SBSP concept is the cost of space launches and the amount of material that would need to be launched. and a 10 km diameter receiving rectenna. total launch costs would range between $11 billion (low cost HLLV. the 1978 NASA SPS study required a 1-km diameter transmitting antenna.prohibitively so. which then could use high-efficiency ion-engine style rockets to (slowly) reach GEO (Geostationary orbit). or non arable land could be used. Much of the material launched need not be delivered to its eventual orbit immediately. assuming a solar panel mass of 20 kg per kilowatt (without considering the mass of the supporting structure. Examples include ion thrusters or nuclear propulsion. and launch costs for alternative HLLVs at $78 million. although they have increased atmospheric absorption and even potential beam blockage by rain or water droplets.

perhaps solar cells or heat engine produced electrical power.000 ton asteroid fragment to geostationary orbit. which could be arranged to be the spent rocket stages used to launch the payload. that represents nearly a 95% reduction in launch costs. Launch costs from the Moon are potentially much lower than from Earth. more expensive than the construction of the International Space Station. Only about 3. Asteroid mining has also been seriously considered.000 tons of the mining ship would be traditional aerospace-grade payload. The low cost per pound of lunar materials in O'neill's vision would be supported by using lunar material to manufacture more facilities in orbit than just solar power satellites. The partially self replicating systems would include locally produced power generation. concluded that use of lunar resources would be cheaper than Earth-based materials for a system of as few as thirty Solar Power Satellites of 10GW capacity each.000 ton mining vehicle (to be assembled in orbit) that would return a 500. Building from space Gerard O'Neill. would cost $140 billion today. and that the asteroid miner itself couldn't be reused. due to the lower gravity. Having a relatively cheap per pound source of raw materials from space would lessen the concern for low mass designs and result in a different sort of SPS being built. . This 1970s proposal assumed the then-advertised future launch costing of NASA's space shuttle. we have only estimates of their composition. The design and construction of these automated systems and their use to produce a mass driver launching system on the moon from lunar materials is expected to take more than twenty years. noting the problem of high launch costs in the early 1970s. A NASA design study evaluated a 10. thus far. This approach would require substantial up front capital investment to establish mass drivers on the Moon. the Final Report ("Lunar Resources Utilization for Space Construction") by General Dynamics' Convair Division.grand total of $24 billion (1970's dollars). However. proposed building the SPS's in orbit with materials from the Moon. Assuming that 100% of the returned asteroid was useful. under NASA contract NAS915560. taking inflation into account. Nevertheless. In 1980. The rest would be reaction mass for the massdriver engine. This 1980s SPS concept relied less on human presence in space and more on partially self-replicating systems on the lunar surface under remote control of workers stationed on Earth. on 30 April 1979. the true merits of such a method would depend on a thorough mineral survey of the candidate asteroids. This proposal suffers from the current lack of such automated systems. when it became obvious NASA's launch cost estimates for the space shuttle were grossly optimistic. published another route to manufacturing using lunar materials with much lower startup costs. O'Neill et al.

On the ground. etc. Some proposed techniques include the lunar mass driver and the lunar space elevator. a suggested microwave beam would have a maximum intensity at its center.. of 23 mW/cm2 (less than 1/4 the solar irradiation constant). Advanced techniques for launching from the moon may reduce the cost of building a solar power satellite from lunar materials. a new form of mass driver which proposes to deliver unmanned payloads to orbit for around 5% of regular launch costs (or $500 per pound. It is important for system efficiency that as much of the microwave radiation as possible be focused on the rectenna. These compare with current United States Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) workplace exposure limits for microwaves. which are 10 mW/cm2. A beam of this intensity is therefore at its center.) can avoid exposure by observing airflight control spaces. Some possible technologies include ground launch systems such as mass drivers or Lofstrom loops. and an intensity of less than 1 mW/cm2 outside of the rectenna fenceline (the receiver's perimeter). first described by Jerome Pearson. which will intercept the microwaves. Exposure to the beam is able to be minimized in other ways. . US$1. The remaining microwave energy will be absorbed and dispersed well within standards currently imposed upon microwave emissions around the world. . and typical aircraft flying through the beam provide passengers with a protective metal shell (i.Non-conventional launch methods SBSP costs might be reduced if a means of putting the materials into orbit were developed that did not rely on rockets.. microwave intensities rapidly decrease.000 per kilogram) and perform 5 launches per day. a Faraday Cage). via fencing). Counter arguments Safety The use of microwave transmission of power has been the most controversial issue in considering any SPS design. as is currently done for military and other controlled airspace. However.g. John Hunter of Quicklaunch is working on commercialising the 'Hydrogen Gun'.e. which would launch using electrical power. so nearby towns or other human activity should be completely unaffected. ultralight. or the geosynchronous orbit space elevator. of a similar magnitude to current safe workplace levels. It would require establishing silicon mining and solar cell manufacturing facilities on the Moon. even for long term or indefinite exposure. it is far less than the OSHA long-term levels Over 95% of the beam energy will fall on the rectenna.the limit itself being expressed in voluntary terms and ruled unenforceable for Federal OSHA enforcement purposes. Other aircraft (balloons. At the Earth's surface. these require technology that is yet to be developed. Outside of the rectenna. Outside the receiver. physical access is controllable (e.

if the pilot beam is lost for any reason (if the transmitting antenna is turned away from the rectenna. a design constraint is that the microwave beam must not be so intense as to injure wildlife. Such a system would be physically incapable of focusing its power beam anywhere that did not have a pilot beam transmitter. In addition. such as airplanes and automobiles. including corrosion. A commonly proposed approach to ensuring fail-safe beam targeting is to use a retrodirective phased array antenna/rectenna. as they can damage the ozone layer. Experiments with deliberate microwave irradiation at reasonable levels have failed to show negative effects even over multiple generations. but this presents serious problems. This forces the transmitted beam to be centered precisely on the rectenna and to have a high degree of phase uniformity. for example) the phase control value fails and the microwave power beam is automatically defocused. particularly birds. There. but nothing has been suggested which might lead to any significant effect. Atmospheric damage due to launches When hot rocket exhaust reacts with atmospheric nitrogen. A "pilot" microwave beam emitted from the center of the rectenna on the ground establishes a phase front at the transmitting antenna. the transmitter would be too far away and too small to be able to increase the intensity to unsafe levels.The microwave beam intensity at ground level in the center of the beam would be designed and physically built into the system. even in principle. Some have suggested locating rectennas offshore . simply. it can form nitrogen compounds. and biological contamination. In particular these nitrogen compounds are problematic when they form in the stratosphere. However. The long-term effects of beaming power through the ionosphere in the form of microwaves has yet to be studied. the environmental effect of rocket launches is negligible compared to higher volume polluters. mechanical stresses. . circuits in each of the antenna's subarrays compare the pilot beam's phase front with an internal clock phase to control the phase of the outgoing signal.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful