Solar Energy

What's Solar Energy ? Solar power is the heat from the sun. It has been looked upon as a powerful, free source of energy used by modern technologies such as Solar Thermal Heating, Solar Photo-voltaic (P.V.), Solar Thermal Electricity and more. Solar technologies fall into two categories, depending on the way how they capture, convert and distribute sunlight: - active and passive solar power. Active solar techniques include the use of P.V. panels and solar thermal collectors to harness the energy. Solar thermal technology can be used for water heating, space heating, space cooling and process heat generation.

Solar water heating systems use sunlight to heat water. The most common types of solar water heaters are evacuated tube collectors. China is the leader in their deployment of solar hot water systems (210 gigawatts by 2020), and per-capita, Israel and Cyprus lead the world in the use of solar water heating systems with over 90% of their homes utilizing the technology. In Ireland, from 60-70% of the domestic hot water use with temperatures up to 60° could be provided by solar heating systems. Solar thermal installations will perform very satisfactorily provided great care is taken in designing the solar systems correctly, and ensuring that the installations are completed to a high standard.

How do solar panels work? Solar panels heat up water directly. A pump pushes a fluid (a pre-mixed solution of antifreeze) around a closed system consisting of a solar thermal panel and an indirect coil (heat-exchanger) contained within a hot water tank. The fluid picks up heat from the sun as it passes through the solar thermal panel and then delivers the heat via the indirect coil (heat-exchanger) into the hot water tank. This process, for as long as the pump is running, will bring up the temperature of the water in the hot water tank to the desired setting.  These special hot water tanks used in solar thermal heating systems can contain any number of indirect coils (heat exchangers) depending on the application required, but in most domestic installations, two or three coils are sufficient.

For more information on solar water heating technology in Ireland please check our FAQ page.