Anonymous- You speak of thermal storage as if it is easy and cost-effective, right now. Can you please inform us specifically where cheap, thermal storage can be found? Water and rocks of course meet the definition of cheap until you actually have to build a system to use the material. Then it becomes totally impractical in most applications because of the shear volume material needed. So, are you talking about something new, perhaps an inexpensive phase change material?
Anonymous- You speak of thermal storage as if it easy and cost-effective right now. Can you please inform us specifically where cheap, thermal storage can be found? Water and rocks of course meet the definition of cheap until you actually have to build a system to use the material then it becomes totally impractical in most application because of the shear volume needed. So, are you talking about something new, perhaps an inexpensive phase change material?
I believe Anonymous's first comment is correct. Half of all energy used in the US does not require electricity but thermal energy instead. Sunlight converts to thermal energy at efficiencies of up to 80% while PV efficiences are still in the teens. Collecting sunlight for space heating is not very complex, thus it is not very sexy or technically difficult. A commercial solar space heating array can cost as little as $8.00 a therm installed. A comparable installation of PV on a sq. ft. basis costs $181.00 (convert kwh to btus) according to the DOE.
The State of Oregon gets it. I believe they are the first State to offer solar tax credits specifically for Solar thermal (water or air) in the country. Solar thermal is able to use both the sun's infrared waves and visible light. Infra-red waves contribute over 50% of the energy from the sun. Thermal loves infra-red but PV hates them, they produce heat.
The common sense of going with the low hanging fruit of thermal solar is beyond obvious. Visible light starved Oregon gets it. Too bad Washington and the other northern tier State legislatures don't. Solar Thermal needs a better PR team.
I agree and I too have been trying to find the holy grail for decades. I first started trying to sell thermal solar in 1978. That is why this time around I concentrated on a technology that does not need incentives. Non-conductive transpired solar collectors and NREL patented technology, in an agricultural setting costs less than a $1.50 sf in materials and a $1.00 sf to install including a VFD. So, even here in the worst sunlight in the country, Seattle solar thermal, solar space heating is works.
George and Patrick,
I think everyone in this discussion would agree that bringing back the sawtooth design would be advantageous. But we have 4.2 million commercial buildings in the US right now that are under 50,000 sf and that have flat roofs. Those flat roofs are the "last great frontier" of open urban space in America.
Do we plaster those roofs with PV's at 15% efficiency or do we create the first real wave of "renewable energy blue collar jobs" and install Fabric solar space heating collectors as pre-heaters to every HVAC unit above the Mason-Dixon line? I vote Fabric solar space heating especially when it is the "least expensive and most efficient solar energy product yet developed"- US Department of Energy
Right on Larry,
Cost-effectiveness is the only thing that counts. We live in a capitalistic society thus the cheaper mouse-trap is always a competitor. The ROI is the only thing a business cares about. Larry is obviously going in that direction. Please tell the rest of us when your system competes with retail natural gas at .88 a therm.
This response is related to your request to know what renewable energy application currently available that can compete with natural gas @.88 therm.
A non-conductive transpired solar collector, is the answer. Sunreps http://sunreps.com has been working with the 6th largest poultry processor in the country, Foster Farms, for the past two years to build and installed solar space heating collectors for poultry barns at an installed cost of less than $2.50 sf. in the Pacific Northwest.
In Western WA and OR sunlight is in short supply. So, for a product to be competitive against natural gas and propane it has to pay for itself within three years.
Chicken barns worldwide require about 4 weeks of heat between 80-90 degrees 24/7 out of every 8 weeks. The single highest expense of growing broiler chickens is heating fuel.
Canadian chicken producers have been using Solarwall, the original transpired solar collector for over 20 years very successfully. The US DOE is on record as stating that a transpired solar collector is THE most-cost-effective solar product yet developed. Solarwall is made of metal. Sunreps' fabric transpired solar collectors are 6 times less expensive than Solarwall.
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory a division of the DOE is the patent holder of this technology. Sunreps is the exclusive worldwide patent licensee of this technology.
The technolgy is also applicable to every HVAC unit on every commercial building above the 35th parallel (Mason-Dixon line)
There are few skills or tools needed to build and install the Sunreps Sunfish collectors. This presents the ability to allow low skill, low wage blue collar workers across the country an opportunity to work in solar on a massive level.
This is probably more info than you wanted but I'm trying to be thorough enough that you realize this is factual information, and now a pipe-dream of what could be, it is happening Now.
You asked a question. I gave you valid answer. I'm not hear to pick flyshit out of the pepper.
The US spends equal amounts of money on space heating as it does electricity. Fabric transpired solar collector work on one problem, space heating and they do it better than anything else yet developed.
We have a fundamental difference of our world views it seems.
I have succeeded in finding a cost-effective solar solution in reducing a minimum of 25% in fossil fuel use in two major global category of energy users, commercial/industrial buildings and the most eaten meat by Americans (9 billion birds a year) This break through has just recently occurred.
This technology and the collectors make money and that is all that the people who will buy it care about. Can they spend money on a product that will make them money? Up till now that has been almost impossible in the solar world because it is not a cost-effective business proposition, but this TSC is!
I am discussing real commercially viable products being installed by thousands of worker around the world. I am working in the real world. The gentleman at Foster Farms that has worked with me on this project has just been hired away by the world's largest poultry producer, Tyson to manage their international growers. This is big business not fantasy.
We need common sense, cost-effective solar products that can be easily installed and maintained, Now! But we also need to have the intelligence to recognize them when they are available. This is one of those times. and this is one of those products. Any solar product that will last 10 years and costs $2.50 a sf at while producing to 80% efficiencies is as good as it gets and it is good enough to compete.
Fabric transpired solar collectors are the first truly utilitarian solar product that compete with other dollars that are spent space heating. They are not sexy, or technical or futuristic overall very pretty they simply work and are made of mass-produced products already available in every town in America. They are simply the most cost-effective solar product on the planet.
"To stay competitive you must drive for higher efficiency, low cost solar solutions always keeping in mind that Feed in Tariffs can literally disappear overnight thus your capital and LCOE costs must both be competitive."
No truer words have been spoken in this discussion.
I've got to go with Anonymous, the low hanging fruit of Energy Efficiency and Thermal solar (pre-heating hvac systems) has to get more recognition. The last great frontier is the rooftops of buildings around the world. Solar space heating collectors cost $7.33 a therm, installed while PV (convert kws to btu's) cost $181.00 installed in northern states. The ROI as Anonymous says is obvious we should be looking to do the easy stuff first. Additionally, its not brain surgery to assemble a fabric solar space heating collector. Any 16 year old has the skills and strength to build and install them, at less than a 1/2 lb. a sq. ft. any building can handle 100-1000s of sq.
It's just too simple, too cheap and too easy to continue to ignore.