Solar Energy is most often implied as Solar Photovoltaic Energy with electric energy as the output.Solar thermal energy is not as predominant in the Solar Renewable energy scenario as Solar PV. Let us consider the current scenario around the world.
The total Solar Thermal Capacity being utilised in the world currently is 465 GigaWatts.
This mostly is accounted by small scale and household utilisation. This, when compared to the solar photovoltaic base capacity installed – around 303 GW – is more than 50 percent higher.
Having said that, the industrial utilisation of Solar Heating systems remains paltry.
100 Million Tonnes of Oil is used in Industries for heating applications of which 15 million tonnes are used for below 250°C applications.
This amounts to around 93 GW Solar Potential for under 250°C and approximately 20GW potential for under 100°C applications
This is huge in terms of unharnessed solar energy, potentially saving millions of rupees and carbon emissions.
We shall now look into this disparity in terms of pragmatic factors.
The cost of Solar Thermal Solutions is more than 1 to 2 crores cheaper for every MW generated using Solar Power technologies.
Space occupied by a solar heater is 3000 sq. m whereas 1 MW solar PV takes about 10000 sq. m.. Energy produced by solar heaters in a year also is often more than Solar PV.
Why then is Solar PV still more prevalent?
The reasons vary from low awareness on the potential Solar heating Technologies to the unappealing nature of Solar Thermal Systems to Low Media coverage on its success.
With governments focusing on more and more sustainable energy solutions these forms also deserve the same attention, if not better, than the usual renewable energy solutions.
In the following series of blog posts posted every Thursday, we shall look into the 7 factors that make Solar thermal Solutions more feasible than Solar Photovoltaic systems and study the processes of implementing these systems.