September 15, 2022 Megan Baker
Net Zero Tech Innovations: Solar Thermal
Solar panels generate electricity by absorbing energy from the sun. Therefore, it’s hard to believe that despite being designed to sit in the sun, solar panels get less efficient the hotter they get.
Solar Thermal technology is a solar panel that has pipes running throughout it. These pipes facilitate the flow of water through the panel cooling it down, and allowing it to act more efficiently in terms of energy generation. Not only do the pipes allow the solar panel to do its job better, but they also allow the water to heat up within the system which can then be used throughout the household as opposed to using the boiler to heat water up. The hot water created is directed into the water system, completely bypassing the need to start up the boiler, saving energy, money, and carbon.
By employing Solar Thermal technology solar panels become more efficient in terms of their energy generation. This kind of technology is by no means a perfect system and is more expensive that just solar, however it allows for the the total avoidance of gas, which in the current climate is an attractive perk, due to the increase in price.
There’s no carbon associated with it, no distribution costs, and the cost of upkeeping the technology is significantly lower than that of wind power, and other renewable alternatives. You generate all of the energy yourself, on-site. It is a really sensible solution to a problem. Ultimately, every building needs electricity and hot water, so why not create these whilst solving a problem associated with standard solar panel technology.
The technology is by no means perfect, however. Overall, it it more expensive than just solar and is more rare in the marketplace, however the developments made in recent years have convinced many of those weighing up between the two to take the plunge with Solar Thermal due to it having a two-pronged approach at moving towards Zero Carbon.