Solar Thermal Energy Essay

1871 words - 7 pages

Solar thermal energy is dead! A solar thermal heating system can cost upwards of $7,000 to install and it most likely won't even save you too much money. This is why many people debate over whether they should use a solar thermal water heating system, because they think they are saving money, or an inexpensive traditional water heating system. A traditional heating system is a system that is powered off of electricity, gas, oil or some other fuel. A solar thermal heating system uses the energy from the sun, hence “solar”, and it turns that energy into hot water to either heat a home or to provide domestic hot water. The energy from the sun is captured by energy collectors, also known as solar panels. The water is heated inside the panels and then distributed throughout the home for use or stored in a tank for later use. The ideas behind this sound great, but in reality that is not the case.Solar thermal energy is not the best choice for home heating a home or hot water heating.
Solar thermal energy is not the best way to heat your home and hot water because it is a very inefficient system. For example Martin Holladay from Green Building Advisor suggests that solar thermal energy is inconsistent. During the long days of summer more hot water is produced than what is needed. But during the dark, cold winter there is not enough hot water (parag. 6-9). This demonstrates that this method of heating is inconsistent and unreliable. During the winter when you need the heat the most, you will not have it. Plus in the summer, when hot water is not needed as much, hot water is produced in large amounts but there is no way to store it for a long time period which makes the system inefficient. As Michael Wolfe states “Devices cannot generate solar thermal energy with the consistency of most fossil fuels, and cannot usually produce cannot usually produce solar energy on a cloudy day or after dark” (parag. 6). This means that solar thermal systems are an unreliable source of energy for heating water. A traditionally powered heating system will always be more reliable and efficient than a solar thermal system. Also, because the system cannot operate without sunlight it requires a backup system powered by some other means, such as electricity, oil or natural gas. This adds to your operating cost, making solar thermal a more expensive option. Lastly solar thermal energy systems require a lot of space and a lot of maintenance. They are also extremely expensive to install and maintain. Plus people find them to be an attractive eye sore (Siegel parag. 12). Therefore, if the system takes up so much space and are unattractive, it makes you wonder why someone, would you spend an enormous amount of money to have a solar thermal system installed and serviced. On top of spending all that money, it can be a lot of work to make sure that the solar panel is always clear of obstructions and debris. Therefore it is more efficient to use a conventional system of heating...

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